Step up, Step in and STOP harassment and abuse of women and girls

With the festive season in full swing, Devon & Cornwall Police has issued advice to everyone who is out and about in the run up to Christmas to do what they can to keep themselves and everyone else safe. The force will also be actively keeping an eye out for sexually aggressive behaviour.

Detective Superintendent Nicky Seager, Force Lead on violence against women and girls said: “Across the Force area you may see an increased police presence on our streets in the evenings. This will include deployments of Project Vigilant in areas where people congregate to eat, drink and be merry.

“Project vigilant is a perpetrator-focused, proactive policing initiative that’s designed to tackle violence, abuse and intimidation against women and girls in what we call the night-time economy.”

Developed in 2019 by Thames Valley Police, this tactic was adopted by Devon & Cornwall police in June this year and will see significant deployments across cities and towns in Devon and Cornwall during the busy Christmas period.

Detective Superintendent Seager continued: “This initiative uses a blend of uniformed and non-uniformed officers in a bid to spot predatory behaviour and challenge it immediately, intervening in situations before they escalate to an offence.”

Unwanted attention, harassment or unwanted touching is unacceptable. Anyone who feels they are in a bad situation and are in a venue which offers the Ask For Angela service should approach staff and do just that, ask for Angela. Staff will help you get out of that situation, and will help you to exit the premises or call you a taxi discreetly and without fuss. If you’re not sure that Ask For Angela is available, talk to staff or security if you’re not in a safe situation.

The Home Office Enough campaign also offers advice on how everyone can step in and intervene, if it’s safe to do so, if they see someone being harassed or abused. Intervening doesn’t have to be dramatic or confrontational. Even small acts of recognition and support can help stop abuse. Here are four simple ways to help you step in safely – just think STOP: Say something. Tell someone. Offer support. Provide a diversion. Help stop it | ENOUGH

Detective Superintendent Seager concluded: “When you are out and about this Christmas and New Year, enjoy yourself. Plan how you’re getting home and never accept a lift from someone you don’t know. Familiarise yourself with the safe places, help points and other safety schemes in our towns and cities which have been created by our local authorities or supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Stick together with your friends and don’t be worried about asking for help from venue staff, police or partner agency workers who are out in the streets such as Street Pastors and Taxi Marshals.

“If you see someone being harassed or abused, step in if it’s safe to do so. And if you or anyone is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 999. Devon & Cornwall Police will be here for you this Christmas, and all year round. Have a great time.”

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