On 18th June several specialist violence against women and girls (VAWG) organisations sent a joint letter to the Home Secretary raising concerns about the scope of Round Three of the Safer Streets Fund.
The third round of funding was launched on 3rd June and the objective of this round is to improve the safety of public places, with a particular focus on reducing VAWG. This comes after the announcement in March 2021 that a further £25 million would be invested into the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund during the 2021/22 financial year, following the murder of Sarah Everard.
Police and Crime Commissioners, Local Authorities and the British Transport Police are invited to bid for funding to: reduce VAWG and increase women and girls’ feelings of safety in public spaces; build the evidence base for ‘what works’ on reducing VAWG crimes; and improve national and local data on VAWG crimes.
We are concerned that the prospectus for the fund does not include many forms of violence and abuse that women and girls experience and will not cover important public spaces such as workplaces, schools, bars, cafes, shops and online. Alongside this, we have serious concerns regarding the launch of an online pilot named “Safer Streets – Your Voice” which will allow members of the public report online places where they feel unsafe. Such “pinpointing” of areas where people might feel generally unsafe could reflect stigma, myths and stereotypes that individual members of the public might hold that are rooted in intersecting structural inequalities such as racism, xenophobia and classism. This in turn would very likely result in the disproportionate targeting of areas where there are significant populations of Black, minoritised and marginalised communities.
Signatories to the letter are therefore urging the government to expand the definitions and scope of the funding to ensure that it adequately tackles male violence, and reconsider the online pilot and work with experts in the VAWG sector to ensure that the over-policing and surveillance of minoritised communities is not exacerbated.
Alongside this letter, several organisations within the VAWG sector have set out key principles, and potential areas of concern, for Police and Crime Commissioner, local authorities and the British Transport Police when bidding for the funding. You can read these Joint Principles for the Safer Street Funding here: Joint Principles for the Home Office Safer Streets Funding
These Joint Principles for the Safer Streets Funding include:
- Specialist VAWG sector at the centre – Specialist VAWG sector must be central to bids to ensure they are effective in supporting the safety of women and girls and bidders must work in partnership with specialist organisations led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors.
- Tackling the problem – Bids must focus on tackling the problem – male violence. Approaches and interventions should be focused on delivering attitudinal change, challenging persistent victim-blaming myths, holding men accountable and empowering women and girls.
- Intersectionality – Approaches must be designed to reach all women and girls – including Black and minoritised women, migrant women and those with insecure status, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT survivors.
- Safety – Approaches and interventions that seek to improve responses from professionals or members of the public within public spaces need to recognise the continued risk of violence and abuse in public spaces women and girls face, including from professionals that they may rely on to protect them – including the police, colleagues, teachers and hospitality staff. Mitigation of this risk such as through adequate training, guidance and support should be informed by the expertise of the specialist VAWG sector.
- Evidence and Quality – Ensuring that the specialist VAWG sector are central to the development of funding bids so that creative and inventive approaches to prevention are safe and quality assured.