Feeling unsafe when out at night has always been and continues to be an ongoing issue, not just in Wiltshire but all over the country.
Recent national news stories have understandably increased concern for many people when going out after dark, especially on their own.
Wiltshire and Swindon’s Safety at Night Charter is inspired by the pledges created for the Mayor of London’s Women’s Night Safety Charter, launched in 2018, and one recently launched in Exeter.
While our version of the charter will have elements focused on reducing violence against women and girls, it is inclusive of all those who use public spaces at night.
What makes people feel safe varies from person to person, so we asked to hear from everyone who uses public spaces at night, be it those who socialise in bars, pubs and clubs, or work in the late-night economy, travel at night, exercise and all the other reasons in between.
The survey results revealed only 3% of people feel safe when out at night, which has really highlighted the importance of our Safety at Night Charter which I am pleased to say was launched this week.
The results will also inform funding bids from the OPCC, and partners, for safer streets funding, which are used for projects including more street lighting and extra CCTV.
As well as this, I have pledged to increase police numbers, ensure greater visibility of officers, and improve the quality of the policing service in communities – with police focusing on those crimes which matter most to you while improving the experience of victims.
I would be blindly biased if I were to say Wiltshire Police were getting it right on every level when it comes to safety at night, as the survey showed 21% of people had been a victim of a crime at night, with many not thinking it was serious enough to report to the police.
Both myself and the Chief Constable are very much aware of the ongoing improvements that need to be made in this area - but our commitment to encourage and support night-time economy businesses to deliver best practice is a welcome step in the right direction. I would encourage any type of business or organisation that operates in the evenings to get involved by signing up online.
I am whole-heartedly committed to providing a better service that meets the needs of the community to ensure these safety standards are met, which is one of the priorities set out in my Police and Crime Plan to make Wiltshire safer for those who live, work and visit here.