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Women’s safety project praised by ministers

Wednesday, 10 January 2024 08:37

By local democracy reporter, Guy Henderson

Image: Arisa Chattasa/Unsplash

More Torbay businesses sign new charter

Pioneering work  to help women enjoy nights out safely in Torbay has been praised by a government minister.

Before Christmas, dozens of businesses signed up to Torbay Council’s new Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) charter, which is being championed by Cllr Hayley Tranter (Con, Goodrington with Roselands).

The comments from Home Office minister Laura Farris followed a question from Torbay Conservative MP Kevin Foster about the government taking further measures to deal with the spiking of drinks.

She described Cllr Tranter’s work as ‘excellent’ and praised the Torbay initiative.

Businesses signing up to the charter pledge to ‘change the conversation’ by encouraging men in their organisations to think about what they can do to keep women safe.

The businesses appoint a champion to drive change and run positive public and staff communications, both online and at their premises.

They support staff and members of the public by creating routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour and train staff on how to respond when issues occur.

They also pledge to adapt their premises to make them safer and reduce the risk of crime.

Cllr Tranter 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, and to women I’d say: Torbay businesses who have signed this charter are serious about looking after you.”

The charter attracted funding from the Home Office last year as part of round four of the Safer Streets Fund. One of the focuses of the programme was work to discourage anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls.

Mr Foster said: “A vital part of having a thriving hospitality and tourism sector in our bay is ensuring people feel safe on a night out.

“Spiking creates fear and can have devastating impacts on victims. I welcome the steps being taken to crackdown on this disgraceful practice.”

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