Women’s street safety was the subject of a packed public meeting addressed by Daisy Cooper MP and three Liberal Democrat councillors and other community figures.
Hosted by the Reverend Richard Watson at St Saviour’s Church in Sandpit Lane, the speakers included district council leader Chris White, chair of the city’s housing and inclusion committee Jacqui Taylor, and county councillor Helen Campbell.
More than 70 members of the public attended the meeting to share their experiences of street safety in St Albans and to highlight places of concern to the councillors.
A range of new initiatives were also discussed, including demands from Daisy Cooper MP for the County Council to review street lighting across the county, and a new campaign by St Albans Pub Watch to response to reports of spiking.
Cllr Jacqui Taylor also revealed that St Albans District Council has subscribed to the national White Ribbon Campaign (a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls) and that it will shortly be appointing male White Ribbon Ambassadors to prompt the much-needed conversations with other men and boys across the district that may not otherwise take place.
St Albans police was represented at the meeting by PC Sally Milligan, part of the city’s Safer Neighbourhood Team, and Sergeant Mark Essam, head of the Harpenden and Rural Safer Neighbourhood Team. They were joined by St Albans district council’s policy and communications manager Claire Wainwright and Kellie Kelly from the council’s Community Protection Team.
Also in attendance were representatives from the Street Support Team, Corker Cars, the St Albans Business Improvement District (BID), and St Albans Pubwatch, which will shortly be launching a new initiative to promote women’s street safety and increase safeguarding measures.
Councillor Jacqui Taylor said: “Women and girls should feel safe in pubs and bars and to walk our streets at whatever time of night or day, and the onus should absolutely be on men to behave decently. Both here in St Albans and across the country, women are still very much at risk from male violence and harassment.
“However, it was heartening to attend this meeting and hear all the great initiatives from individuals, businesses and community groups, and listen to residents about how we can all work together to safeguard women and girls. I was also pleased to see a number of men attend the event.”
Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, said: “Major change needs to come about in our society to end male violence towards women. Public meetings like this are a huge and vital step forward, and I’m proud that St Albans already has so many residents, community groups, councillors and businesses that are keenly aware of the issue of women’s street safety.”
She added: “I don’t feel as though women’s safety is being taken seriously enough across Hertfordshire and I’m disappointed that it took five months for me to get a non-committal response from Herts County Council and the Police Commissioner about my request for a review of street lighting, so I would urge everyone who cares about this issue to respond to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DFB7JGY .
“If you’ve spotted a damaged or faulty streetlight or you’re concerned about a dimly lit area, you can let the county council know on its ‘Report a fault’ page or contact your county councillor.”