Town centre measures to improve safety of women and girls
- More CCTV cameras in areas where people feel less safe
- Additional street lighting
- Measures to reduce anti-social and predatory behaviour
Improving the safety of women and girls in Reading town centre is at the heart of a raft of new security measures revealed by Reading Borough Council.
The boost to the number of CCTV cameras and streetlights, and a Thames Valley Police initiative to identify potential predatory offenders, are among the measures introduced to make women and girls feel safer and support the town centre’s night-time economy.
The improvements are in locations which have been identified as places where our partners and residents, particularly women and girls, feel vulnerable using certain walking routes, streets and car parks. Reducing incidents of theft and anti-social behaviour is also set to be tackled by the safety measures.
The significant improvements to safety include:
- Nine new CCTV cameras in locations where residents said they felt less safe, including Friar Street, Chain Street, Oxford Road and Queen’s Road car park
- 12 new streetlights, including along Queen’s Road and Station Road, and the addition of festoon lighting along Chain Street and Union Street
- The establishment of the new Reading Safe Space (safe hub) where people who feel threatened, vulnerable or unwell can go for help and support
- Creation of the MyWay Reading phone app, to help advise women the safest routes to be using late at night
- Cleaner and more attractive areas and providing better spaces for the public
The improvements have been made possible through a working partnership between the Council, Thames Valley Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Reading’s Business Improvement District (BID) which resulted in £429,000 of Safer Streets funding from the Home Office to improve town centre safety.
Thames Valley Police regularly operates Project Vigilant to identify the signs of predatory behaviour, such as sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and loitering. This sees uniformed and plain-clothed officers patrolling outside night clubs, bars, and pubs to make women and girls feel safer and deter crime.
A Safer Students Partnership has also been created with the University of Reading and Reading College. As well as free safety advice and tools, the Partnership will provide bystander intervention training to ensure students know how to safely help someone who may be in trouble.
The news of improved safety measures comes in the run up to White Ribbon Day on Saturday 25 November. The national day encourages individuals and organisations to make consistent choices and actions to #ChangeTheStory for women and girls, so they can live free from the fear of violence or predatory behaviour.
A stall will be open at the Reading Safe Space in Chain Street (by Bill’s restaurant) from 10am to 2pm on Saturday 25 November, run by the Council and Reading BID with Thames Valley Police and Berkshire Women’s Aid attending. It will be handing out white ribbons so residents can show their support, providing more information about how individuals can help, and also passing out personal safety kits to women and girls. Residents can take a white ribbon and make the White Ribbon Promise to never tolerate, excuse or remain silent about male aggressive behaviour towards women.
Karen Rowland, Lead Councillor for Environmental Services and Community Safety, said:
“We want all Reading’s residents – particularly women and girls who take advantage of our vibrant town centre – to be aware of the positive changes we’re making to create a better, safer Reading for them.
“There’s so much to enjoy in Reading, and we’re working hard in partnership to provide an improved, safer environment with enhanced town centre infrastructure. This includes our new safe hub, Reading Safe Space, more CCTV, better lighting and increased, innovative police patrols. Additional safety measures such as the MyWay Reading app and anti-spiking kits that the Safer Streets partners have introduced should aid in giving women that confidence in our town centre as a place to take advantage of and enjoy.
“We’re calling on residents to get involved and make the White Ribbon promise on Saturday and help us challenge threatening and negative behaviours towards women.”
Thames Valley Police Detective Chief Inspector, Laura Corscadden, said:
“Whilst Reading is a safe place to live, work and visit, these new safety initiatives are welcomed. The additional funding has allowed the police and partners to implement a number of measures to provide extra support and assistance to members of the public who are enjoying a night out. By working together, we can continue to provide reassurance to our communities that Reading is a safe area and we do not tolerate those seeking to commit sexual offences.
“If you're a victim of violence, abuse or intimidation, or know someone who is, you can contact police and partner agencies at: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/support-organisations/.”