Greater Manchester secures more than £500,000 for Safer Streets initiative

Greater Manchester has secured £549,744 from the Home Office to launch a series of schemes aimed at helping women and girls feel safer when out and about in the city region.

The funding follows the launch of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Gender-Based Violence strategy last month which outlines how GMCA and its partners will tackle all forms of gender-based violence through a whole-system approach over the next 10 years.

The strategy was shaped from extensive consultation and engagement with individuals, professionals, community groups and charities, including those that support victims.

During the consultation, street harassment and harassment on and around public transport were some of the most frequently mentioned issues raised by women and girls who said they wanted to feel safer and know who to contact if they did feel unsafe.

After a number of serious incidents of violence against women in the last few months, the situation in the UK is being described as an ‘epidemic’ of sexual harrassment.

Since the murder of Sarah Everard on March 3, a further 80 women have been killed by men in the UK as reported by Counting Dead Women – a group that tracks femicide in the UK.

The ‘Safer Streets’ fund, a Home Office fund which originally launched in 2020, allows Police and Crime Commissioners and local authorities to apply for funding for crime prevention plans.

Greater Manchester’s partnership bid, submitted by GMCA, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Oldham Council, will be used to deploy and test several interventions on the tram network and at key stops to respond to the issues raised by women and girls.

If successful, the schemes could be rolled out more widely, including beyond transport.

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “The Safer Streets funding will enable us to implement several interventions to address the issues of street harassment and feelings of being unsafe on public transport that were frequently raised by women and girls during our Gender-Based Strategy public consultation and engagement process.

“GMCA has worked with partners to develop a long-term strategy to end gender-based violence and ensure Greater Manchester can be one of the best places to grow up, get on and get old.”

The funding will cover pilot interventions including:

  • A reporting campaign led by TfGM to educate passengers on reporting mechanisms and to increase reporting of incidents via the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Live Chat System.
  • Working with women and girls to understand what training and campaigns they would like to see and developing a bespoke package to deliver to boys and men.
  • The presence of trusted adults and trained staff to increase security to prevent serious incidents, as well as test more informal approaches to educate and engage people and increase safety and reporting.
  • A safe hub and safe places scheme, which will enable increased security to prevent serious incidents using a detached youth team and Street Angels
  • Integration and upgrades to the CCTV system in key locations so that images can be shared between TfGM and Council systems, increasing facial recognition and coverage, and better enabling tracking of routes to car parks.
  • 570 staff – including Customer Service Representatives, TravelSafe officers and tram drivers – will be trained to spot and appropriately respond to incidents and to encourage increased reporting.

These schemes will be trialled with the intention of sustaining and expanding successful interventions across Greater Manchester.

Amanda Chadderton, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council and cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It’s great news that this funding has been secured, particularly when the importance of tackling gender-based violence has never been more apparent.

“Women should be able to use public transport without being harassed and feel safe when walking around our neighbourhoods.

“It is unacceptable that, even in 2021, this is still not the case.

“It’s about educating men and boys to modify their behaviour; it’s about ensuring more people can recognise and report crimes where they occur.

“It’s about creating a safer Oldham and Greater Manchester for all our women and girls.”

Main image credit: Phil Long, FlickrLink:

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