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Right to the Night: Supporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week

by Jonathan Kearney

Knowsley is supporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, from 7 to 14 February 2022.

The week raises awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence and helps to highlight specialist support available for victims.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods said:

“We are dedicated to the safety of our residents and work closely with our partners to do all we can to ensure their protection within our communities. Sadly however, we know that incidents of rape or sexual violence occur so it’s vitally important that those who have experienced these crimes know there is support available and how to access it.”

If you have been affected by sexual assault/ and or abuse or rape support and information is available from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre.

Knowsley council is currently working with Merseyside Police, the hospitality sector, taxi drivers and security staff to help women feel safe and have an enjoyable time when out during the evening in Huyton, Prescot and Kirkby – they agree that women have a Right to the Night.

Knowsley was recently awarded almost £190,000 from the Home Office, to fund a project that will improve the safety of women and girls at night in the borough.

Right to the Night

The funding is being used to ensure additional policing resources are in the area, specifically during the evening in Huyton Village Centre, and Prescot and Kirkby Town Centres where there is a growing night-time economy. If someone feels harassed, intimidated, unsafe, vulnerable or threatened they are urged to speak to a police officer who can help ensure their safety and tackle the person or people causing concern.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, continued:

“This additional investment allows us to provide extra resources and offer a reassuring presence. We will continue to work with Merseyside Police, local businesses, community groups and others, to ensure women and girls in our borough feel safe as they go about their day to day lives.”

Later this month work is due to start on a training programme for bars, restaurants, taxi drivers and security staff in Huyton, Prescot and Kirkby, inducting them into the Ask for Angela safety initiative.

People who feel harassed, intimidated, unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist them. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, added:

“The Ask for Angela scheme is a discreet way of women finding help when they feel threatened. While we are not experiencing any particular issues with violence against women in our town centres and villages, it’s about giving women confidence that they can enjoy our night-time offer and there are people to help in needed

“We have a wide-ranging campaign planned for later this month that will let you know when the scheme is in place.”

Superintendent Karl Baldwin, Knowsley Local Policing, said: 

“As a society we need to take a strong stance against attacks on women. Women should be empowered to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse. Together with our partners, Merseyside Police are actively addressing the fears being raised about violence against women, with the ultimate aim of making our streets safer for women and girls.

“As part of Knowsley’s Safety of Women at Night project there is an increased presence of police officers in Huyton, Prescot and Kirkby town and village centres at weekends and evenings. If you have any concerns or wish to report an incident, then please speak with them. Alternatively, you can report an incident of sexual violence, anonymously if you wish, via the Merseyside Police website or by calling 101. In an emergency you should always call 999.”