Chief’s pledge to tackle issues around violence against women and girls
Chief Constable Paul Sanford is urging Norfolk residents to use the Street Safe online tool to report areas where they feel unsafe in the county.
The Street Safe tool enables anyone to anonymously flag public places and mark on a map the areas where they feel unsafe while remaining anonymous, and while anyone can use it, women and girls are particularly being encouraged to use the online platform.
Launched by the Home Office and Police Digital Service, the tool, which is being piloted across England and Wales until the end of November can be accessed by clicking on: www.police.uk/streetsafe
Mr Sanford said: "In Norfolk we are committed to ensuring supporting victims is at the heart of what we do and violence against women and girls is definitely our priority. We want communities to work with us to target the issue. The Street Safe tool is one way we can focus on the areas people feel unsafe in, to help target hotspot areas, for example with extra patrols, and work together with partners to improve wellbeing for communities.
"We have already been working on ensuring high quality investigations, addressing perpetrators’ behaviours directly and educating police officers around both domestic abuse and sexual offences and areas such as coercive control.
"This is not an issue that just involves the police and in order to make sustainable changes we are already working with partners to address the issue more broadly.
"We understand the depth of public response to the recent cases, including that of Wayne Couzens, around police officers’ behaviour which are appalling and damaging to society as a whole. I can reassure you that the majority of our police officers come to work to help and support victims and bring perpetrators to justice and they are as equally shocked and horrified as our communities. However, we all have a role to play in calling unacceptable behaviour into question whether that is within the constabulary itself or when offering our services and I will, as always, be looking to my staff to do this.
"To help us offer you that reassurance, from today, 7 October 2021, on duty officers, working on their own, will proactively offer to carry out a verification check for anyone they come across who appears, as a result of their interaction with police, to be concerned for their safety. A member of the public can also request that a verification check be carried out and we will respond immediately if we are asked to do that.”
Norfolk Constabulary has also worked with the Office and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council, district councils, health services and local charities in partnership campaigns to promote services to victims of violence. There was a focus on this area during lockdowns and the height of the pandemic when we were aware services were constrained and we did not want victims to feel alone.
Giles Orpen-Smellie, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk said: "It is incredibly important that we do what we can to improve the safety of women and girls in our communities and at the heart of that is listening to what they are telling us about how they feel when they are out and about in our county.
"I would really encourage women and girls across Norfolk to make use of the Street Safe tool and to help us build a picture that tells us how they feel in different areas.
"By telling us where they feel unsafe, it provides the opportunity for the police to plan increased patrols and a more visible presence, but also for some longer-term work to take place to help us understand where in the county further action, like better street lighting or improved CCTV can make a difference too.
"There won’t be one single measure that solves every problem, but by making the most of every opportunity available, we can start to make real change for the benefit of people in Norfolk.”
The Street Safe tool will be promoted via Norfolk Constabulary's social media channels. Please follow us on Twitter @NorfolkPolice on our Norfolk Constabulary Facebook page and on Instagram norfolkpolice.
If you are in immediate danger you should still call 999. Police 101 is the non-emergency number. Some charities and organisations will also be offering support, please see the list on our website if you need to contact someone for support or advice: https://www.norfolk.police.uk/advice/assault-abuse-threats/domestic-abuse
The Silent Solution system helps filter out accidental or hoax 999 calls from those who need genuine police assistance. If you are calling from a mobile phone and speaking or making an immediate sound would put you in danger and you need immediate help, call 999 and stay on the line, then press 55 when prompted and the call will be transferred to the police, who will know it is an emergency call.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs – StreetSafe tool
What is StreetSafe?
The StreetSafe tool is an online tool accessed via police.uk at www.police.uk/streetsafe to enable people, particularly women and girls, to pin-point locations where and why they feel unsafe.
Norfolk Constabulary is promoting use of the online tool as a part of the wider government’s strategy to tackle Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG).
The Home Office is trialling the new tool developed by the Digital Public Contact (DPC) Programme in cooperation with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). This was launched last month as a national pilot for three months to the end of November.
StreetSafe is not a means for crime reporting to the police.
Further information about StreetSafe is available at www.police.uk/streetsafe
What data is being collected?
The data collected will be anonymous and will focus on particular locations and factors that lead to people feeling unsafe and/or might help offenders either commit or conceal a crime – such as street lighting, abandoned buildings or poorly designed spaces, vandalism, as well as behaviours of individuals or groups of people.
Users will not be asked any questions about their identity but there will be optional questions related to crime reporting and protected characteristics, such as age, sex, ethnicity etc, to help understand the demographics using StreetSafe and whether further refinements are needed to the tool to support those with protected characteristics.
What can the data be used for?
The data is intended, alongside the other information Norfolk Constabulary has access to, will be used to enhance the understanding of our communities’ concerns. In Norfolk we will look to use the data to, for example, increase patrols and visibility in specific areas.
Who can access the data?
The data and a dashboard can be accessed by all police.uk email addresses and will allow filtering by demographics/force/neighbourhood etc
Police and Crime Commissioners will have access to the data and the dashboard to support their planning decisions and enrich their understanding of geographical profiles locally. It will also be accessible to government policy officials to support policy thinking on making our streets safer.
The dashboard will not be accessible to external partners, such as Local Authorities. These partners may have interest in the data, and the police and PCCs will be able to share the data from the dashboard with them.
Will StreetSafe be evaluated?
During the pilot, StreetSafe will be assessed on its impact and uptake. This includes how the data is being used by police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners.
The Home Office will use the evaluation findings to refine and improve StreetSafe as needed.