Greater Manchester has received £ 549,744 from the Home Office to launch a range of programs to help women and girls feel safer while traveling in the metropolitan area.
It follows the launch of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Gender-Based Violence Strategy last month, which outlines how GMCA and its partners will tackle the many forms of gender-based violence through a holistic approach over the next 10 years.
The strategy was developed following extensive advice and involvement from individuals, professionals, community groups and charities, including those who support victims. During the consultation, street harassment and harassment in and around public transport were some of the most common problems reported by women and girls, who reported feeling more secure and knowing who to turn to when they feel unsafe.
The “Safer Streets” fund, a home office fund originally launched in 2020, enables police and crime inspectors as well as local authorities to apply for funding for crime prevention plans. Greater Manchester’s successful partnership offer, submitted by GMCA, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Oldham Council, will be used to conduct and test multiple interventions on the tram network and key stops to respond to the issues raised by women and girls . If the plans prove successful, they could be disseminated on a broader basis, including beyond transportation.
Deputy Mayor for Police, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said, “Safer Streets funding will allow us to carry out multiple interventions to address the street harassment and insecurity issues commonly raised by women address public transport and girls during our public consultation and participation process on gender strategy.
“GMCA has worked with partners to develop a long-term strategy to end gender-based violence and ensure that Greater Manchester can be one of the best places in the world to grow, move forward and grow old. The Safer Streets Fund pilots are just the first steps in our 10 year journey to improving the safety of women and girls while preventing gender-based violence and challenging the attitudes and inequalities that make it possible. “
Funding will include pilot interventions, including a TfGM-led reporting campaign to educate passengers on reporting mechanisms and increase incident reporting through the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) live chat system.
Working with women and girls to understand what training and campaigns they want and develop a tailor-made package for both boys and men.
The presence of trusted adults and trained personnel to increase security to prevent serious incidents, as well as to test more informal approaches to educating and engaging people, and increasing security and reporting.
A Safe Hubs and Safe Spots program that enables heightened security to prevent serious incidents by using a remote youth team and street angels to educate and engage people, and increase safety and reporting.
Integrate and upgrade the CCTV system at key locations so that images can be exchanged instantly between TfGM and Council systems, improving facial recognition and coverage and better tracking of routes to parking lots.
570 employees – including customer service agents, TravelSafe officers and tram drivers – are trained to identify incidents and respond appropriately, and to encourage increased reporting and a student-designed poster campaign on acceptable / unacceptable behaviors such as catcalling. The posters are displayed throughout the tram network to inform the public.
These programs are tested and their success measured in order to maintain and expand successful interventions in the Greater Manchester area.
TfGM TravelSafe Manager Kate Green said, “Not only do we want people to be safe when using public transport, we also want them to feel safe and confident.
“We know that safety concerns can be a real barrier to using public transport, including for some women, and I want to reassure all existing and potential tram, train and bus users that their safety is always a top priority.
“I am pleased that we were able to secure the funding to initiate a number of measures that further support our work with the police, operators and other partners in order to make our networks as secure as possible.”
Amanda Chadderton, Oldham Council Vice Chairperson and Cabinet Member for Neighborhoods, said, “It’s great news that this funding has been secured, especially when the importance of tackling gender-based violence has never been more evident.
“Women should be able to use public transport without any nuisance and feel safe when walking through our neighborhood. It is unacceptable that this will still not be the case in 2021 either.
“That is why this funding and the broader strategy are so important. It’s about educating men and boys to change their behavior; it is about ensuring that more people can identify and report crimes where they occur; and it’s about making Oldham and Greater Manchester a safer place for all of our women and girls. “