Scourge of violence against women is in sights of Portsmouth authorities
THE scourge of violence against women and girls is being targeted as summer approaches and venues fill up.
Police and Portsmouth City Council are aiming to make sure more drinkers doesn't mean more domestic abuse and sex crimes against women.
Superintendent Clare Jenkins, Portsmouth's district commander, has ruled out plainclothes officers in bars following another force's plan to do so elsewhere in the country.
But she is keen that the unlocking from Covid-19 restrictions should not see an increase in people preying on women in public and behind closed doors.
She said: ‘One of our main focuses continues to be the protection of women and girls from violence in all areas of their lives, whether this be getting home after a night out or ensuring they’re safe behind closed doors once at home.
‘We encourage anyone who feels uncomfortable while out in the city to approach patrolling officers, street pastors or visit the Safe Space at Guildhall Walk Practice. If no-one is available and you feel unsafe you can call 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.’
Police and the council are already flooding social media with warnings about consent.
Joining them in the fight are Shaping Portsmouth, the University of Portsmouth and the institution’s students’ union.
It comes after City of Sanctuary Portsmouth has set up safe space training for businesses in the city.
A police spokeswoman added: 'The campaign’s key aims are to raise awareness across the city, but particularly within bars, clubs and pubs, of inappropriate and illegal behaviour such as harassment, physical violence, sexual abuse and domestic abuse towards women and girls and the services available should anyone need support.'
Part of this will see the Safe Space reopen in Guildhall Walk - opposite Rosalind Franklin Hall - every Friday and Saturday from 10pm-3am.
Trained professionals will offer confidential and non-judgemental advice. Minor injuries can also be treated.
University deputy vice-chancellor Bernie Topham said: ‘We want all women to feel safe in Portsmouth.
‘The university will not tolerate any form of sexual abuse, harassment or assault against our female students.
‘We strongly support the work of our partners in this campaign to make sure our community knows what is inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. Women must be able to enjoy socialising and going out in our city knowing that support and protection is in place to help keep them secure.’
Councillor Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for community safety at the council, added: ‘As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we're able to enjoy the abundant choice of restaurants, bars and pubs across the city, we know there is more risk of violent behaviours and attitudes, particularly towards women and girls.
‘By working with partners across the city, we're doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our residents, students and visitors, and to highlight what services are available should anyone feel unsafe.’