Women enjoying night out in Torbay can be assured they’re attending safe venues over the Christmas period.
This is thanks to the actions of more than 60 businesses who have signed up to Torbay Council’s Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) Charter.
Bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, leisure attractions and shops are just some of the organisations who have pledged their commitment to keeping women safe in their premises.
Councillor Hayley Tranter, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, Public Health and Inequalities, said: “We know many women feel anxious about being out at night and this really shouldn’t be the case.”
“We’ve developed the SWAN Charter using the successful Exeter model as part of our commitment to keeping Torbay’s night-time economy areas safe, especially for women.”
“It’s about everyone taking practical steps together to ensure the Bay is safe and open for women.”
“To women I’d say: Torbay businesses who have signed this charter are serious about looking after you.”
“To the businesses who have signed up so far, I’d like to say thank you for prioritising the safety of women customers. And to those who haven’t signed up yet, I’d say, what are you waiting for?”
By signing the charter, businesses promise to:
- Change the conversation by encouraging men in their organisation to think about what they can do to keep women safe.
- Appoint a champion to drive change.
- Run positive public/staff facing communication, both online and in their premises.
- Support staff and members of the public by creating clear routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour.
- Train staff on how to respond when an issue occurs.
- Adapt their spaces to make them safer and reduce the risk of crime.
You’ll know if you’re in a venue that has signed up to SWAN Charter – you’ll see posters and stickers displayed in the premises.
The SWAN Charter has come about thanks to funding the council received from the Home Office last year as part of Safer Streets 4.
This was to carry out work to discourage anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls.
Most signatories are in Torquay, where the scheme has been launched. A handful are in Paignton, where it will be fully rolled out in the new year as part of Safer Streets 5.
Businesses will need to re-commit to the charter annually.
As part of Safer Streets, the council has also delivered Shout Up! Torbay through Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services (DRCSAS). This is training for people working in the night-time economy to ensure their premises are free of sexual harassment.
DRCSAS has so far delivered the training to eight businesses in Torquay, with more training to take place in the New Year.
The council and other partners have collaborated with NHS Devon, which has commissioned a Torbay night bus, known as Torbay Safe Space.
Safe Space provides medical care and assistance on Torquay harbourside from 10pm to 3am, mainly on Saturday nights.
The service helps people who may be unwell or needing support while visiting busy local bars and clubs and, in some cases, has prevented A&E visits.
During its first four months of operation, the team saw 119 people – preventing 108 attendances at Torbay Hospital’s emergency department and 60 ambulance trips.
Staff also hand out bottles of water, anti-spiking bottle tops and have charged up phones and provided a safe space for individuals to wait for transport home.
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