Sussex Police are launching a unique survey seeking the views of people across the county on the experience of women and girls as victims of harassment, sexual and violent crime.
The online survey will run for six weeks and opens on Thursday 25 November, annual White Ribbon Day, and the start of a global 16 days of activity against gender-based violence.
The survey forms part of the commitment by Sussex Police to engage with local communities on this issue, to better understand lived experiences and enhance work already underway.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland, Head of the force's Public Protection Command, says: "We have chosen this important day to reach out and seek the experiences of everyone, particularly women and girls, to help us do better to prevent and detect such crimes and keep everyone safe.
"We know that crimes including harassment and sexual offences are under-reported and this anonymous survey will provide an up-to-date snapshot that improves our understanding of why, and how best, the police and other agencies in Sussex can provide support, keep people safe and target perpetrators
"We already have comprehensive plans in place to tackle violence against women and girls in Sussex and we enjoy really strong partnerships with local authorities, victim services, and charities, working together to seek to address the root causes of gender inequality.
"But it is clear that in the police service we must do more, and must consider doing some things differently. This survey will give us a valuable steer on experiences that people have had and how we can adapt our work to respond more effectively.
"It is part of a wider programme of targeted engagement to ensure we hear views from a cross-section of the community across Sussex. This too will feed into our operational response."
It follows news that Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne, has this month been awarded £300,000 from the Safety of Women at Night Fund.
The money will be used to fund extra police patrols at night time, with branded vehicles, aimed at deterring violence and providing a clear contact point for women and girls at risk. Training will also be provided to night-time economy businesses on how they can help to reduce risk and create safe spaces for women. This funding is in addition to just under £1million which was recently secured from the Safer Streets Fund.
Katy Bourne said; "I know from my own surveys and regular correspondence with members of the public that they want to see more being done to help women and girls in our county to feel safe.
“Having recently secured £1.3 million from the Safer Streets Fund and the Safety of Women at Night Fund, we will be using this to fund extra police patrols at night-time, provide training to night-time economy businesses and teach secondary school children about healthy relationships.
“I will also soon be launching our Do the Right Thing campaign which will help men to recognise misogyny and sexual harassment and encourage them to call out these behaviours whenever they see them.
“Every resident deserves to feel safe in our county so I’m pleased that violence against women and girls is a topic which Sussex Police is taking seriously. I will be interested to see the results of their new survey and will be monitoring what changes are made as a result.”
The survey seeks to understand people’s preferred reporting mechanisms, to gauge levels of under reporting around particular crime types, to raise awareness of reporting mechanisms and of the different support services available:
Questions in the survey seek experiences of harassment or violence, whether reported or not, whether the respondent would report a future incident to the police, if not how and to who else they would report it.
Issues covered include rape and serious sexual assault, stalking, voyeurism, unwanted sexual touching, upskirting, indecent exposure and street harassment:
Whilst the survey focuses on incidents that have taken place in public, there is also an opportunity to share experiences of different locations including behaviour you have experienced online and in your home.
There are currently several current sources of advice and support for people affected by harassment, sexual and violent crime:
- At the recently launched StreetSafe website you can tell us anonymously about locations in your neighbourhood that make you feel or have made you feel unsafe. But if you or someone else is in immediate danger always dial 999.
- At home shouldn’t mean at risk of domestic abuse - #youarenotalone
If you are controlled or physically, sexually, economically or emotionally abused by a partner, ex-partner or family member, this is Domestic Abuse. Contact us through the Sussex Police website sussex.police.uk or find support at Sussex Safespace.
- Going for a night out shouldn’t mean at risk of sexual assault - #nomeansno
If you experience or witness a sexual assault, contact us on 999. You can find support at Sussex Safespace.
- Walking in the street shouldn’t mean intimidation - #youarenotalone
If you feel unsafe, contact Sussex Police on 999. You can also report non-emergencies online at contact us on 999. You can find support at Sussex Safespace.
The Sussex Police current commitment to stopping violence against women and girls is reflected in a range of initiatives some of which have been recognised as national best practice:
- A multi-agency stalking perpetrator project to manage the highest risk stalking perpetrators using dedicated police offender managers:
- Successfully embedding the use of Stalking Protection Orders – the force has led nationally:
- A multi-agency domestic abuse perpetrator project, focusing on the highest harm, most actively dangerous perpetrators, to reduce harm and repeat victimisation and offending:
- Specialist officers who respond to support victims of serious sexual assault, working alongside investigators:
- A dedicated team of domestic abuse investigators who can respond to victims via video calls, providing a quick, efficient and discreet response:
- Extensive analysis to inform police patrol activities including revised night time economy policing engagement activities to identify and tackle inappropriate behaviours:
- Specially dedicated patrol units responding to emergency calls reporting domestic abuse.
White Ribbon UK: is a national organisation working to involve men in opposing violence and abuse against women. Sussex Police have taken a stand to end all male violence against women by becoming White Ribbon Accredited. This global campaign encourages people, and especially men and boys, to individually and collectively take action and change the behaviour and culture that leads to abuse and violence. To wear a white ribbon is to promise to never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.
The global campaign commits to White Ribbon Day and 16 days of action to seek to end male violence against women and girls. By wearing a white ribbon pin badge, you can show your support in challenging the acceptability of violence by becoming involved in changing attitudes and behaviour.
There are three hashtags that White Ribbon Day are encouraging organisations to use throughout the 16 day period, these are: #WhiteRibbon - #AllMenCan #MakeThePromise - #youarenotalone.
StreetSafe: As part of the government’s agenda to tackle violence against women and girls, we are also trialling this new online tool to enable people, particularly women and girls, to report locations where they feel or have felt unsafe and to identify the features on why that location made them feel unsafe. This has been developed in cooperation with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Since we began to publicise StreetSafe in Sussex in Mid-October we have already received more than 500 reports. All the reports are analysed at local level and action taken to change patrol patterns, and to consult with local partners on issues such a street lighting and layout.