Police host female safety event in town

VIGILANT: District Inspector Ian Jones and Greg Clark MP

Police officers and campaigners gathered to speak to local women and girls at an event in Tunbridge Wells, with the aim of identifying opportunities to further enhance their day-to-day safety.

Kent Police hosted a Tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) event at Five Ways, in the town centre on October 6. More than 100 women came to share their own experiences and concerns about personal safety.

District Inspector Ian Jones, along with members of the town’s Community Safety Unit were joined by Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, Kent County Council wardens, council officers and representatives from the Street Pastors, Protection Against Stalking and members of Soroptimist International Tunbridge Wells (SITWD). The latter is a women’s support organisation that works at local and national levels to educate and empower women.

Inspector Jones said the women’s responses will assist future planning to prevent crime in the Borough.

He added: “Tunbridge Wells is a very safe place for residents, visitors and those who work in the town. However, we are always keen to hear from the public about any concerns they might have.

“In particular, we are committed to protecting women and girls and were pleased to have the opportunity to offer advice about enhancing personal security.

“Anyone who has been a victim of violence or other offences is urged to report it to us immediately, so that we can take steps to protect you and bring offenders to justice.”

Those who engaged with officers were also advised about the steps they could take to avoid becoming a victim of an offence while visiting the town, and also within the home.

A YouGov survey carried out last year by UN Women UK found only 4 per cent of women report incidents of sexual harassment. The survey also found that around 45 per cent of women would not report sexual harassment in the UK because they think nothing would really change.

Angela McPherson, Programme Action Officer of SITWD, described the event as ‘worthwhile and productive’. She told the Times: “Club representatives spent several hours circulating amongst the crowds networking and talking about Soroptimism, its objectives and advocacy on behalf of women.

“In this way, we were able to demonstrate to the public that the Police and local groups concerned with the issue of VAWG work in partnership on important issues affecting women and girls.

Protection Against Stalking also had a presence at the local event. The national charity, which has a local focus in West Kent, supports victims of stalking and their families. So far this year they have supported 1,133 victims of stalking.

Conversations around violence towards women and girls are also happening on the national stage. Last week, Rusthall Councillor Jayne Sharratt (Labour) and campaigner for women’s safety attended the annual Labour Conference in Liverpool, where she met with Jess Phillips, the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, to tell her about the campaign work she is doing as co-founder of safety group Reclaim the Night Tunbridge Wells.

Cllr Sharratt exclusively told the Times: “I have been impressed by Labour’s plans for joined-up policy across government and strengthened policing and justice systems that listen to and work for women and girls instead of empowering their abusers.”

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