Photo: (l-r) DCI Nickie Deeks, DI Liz Basham, OPFCC Delivery Manager Paul Golley
Northamptonshire Police and the Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold (OPFCC) have jointly won a regional award for their work in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) presented the ‘Making Spaces Safer’ award to both organisations in recognition of their joint efforts in making areas in the county safer, particularly for women at night.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold, successfully bid for Government Safer Streets Funding to create a network of measures to improve physical safety and security, tackle perpetrators and make streets and spaces safer. Some of this work was done in partnership with West Northamptonshire Council.
One such award-winning measure was the introduction of Operation Kayak, a policing initiative to keep people safe on weekend nights out.
Operation Kayak patrols first began as a pilot, funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, and have proved to be extremely effective at reducing offending behaviour and in safeguarding the vulnerable. The patrols have since been adopted as a core operational activity. Officers working in the night-time economy are briefed to be proactively on the lookout for suspicious activity, sexual aggression, harassment, inappropriate or predatory behaviour.
Detective Chief Inspector Nickie Deeks, who is the Force lead for VAWG said: “Reducing Violence Against Women and Girls is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police so we are delighted to receive this regional award from the NPCC for Op Kayak, and that our work to tackle VAWG has been recognised.
“Operation Kayak is a very successful proactive operation, and we are really pleased with the progress made so far. We are reducing offending and successfully protecting the public by being a visible presence, watching for and challenging suspicious activity and predatory behaviour.
“Officers look out for individuals who are being sexually aggressive, or intimidating, or whose behaviour causes concern. They also check the wellbeing of those who are vulnerable and help them where necessary to get support.”
The NPCC award also acknowledged the effectiveness of the Safer Nights Out (SNO) vans, which were set up and funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner to be a haven for anyone who needs support while on an evening out. The SNOvans are customised minibuses, staffed by trained volunteers, who give practical help to anyone who needs it. SNOvans are in the centre of Northampton town centre between 10pm and 5am every Friday and Saturday, and in Kettering, between 11pm and 3am on Saturday.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “Preventing violence against women is central to my priorities for this county. We have worked hard with Northamptonshire Police and other partners to put practical measures in place to prevent crime and make people safer in the night time economy. It is very satisfying that this work has been recognised and is making an impact.
“The SNOvans are part of a wide-ranging programme of initiatives that work together to create safer spaces, including enhanced CCTV and better lighting; safer walking routes and funding licensed premises to join the Licensing Savi scheme and promote high standards in venue safety. We have also created the most extensive network of ID Scan technology in any night-time economy in the country, to help premises deter anyone intent on causing trouble.
“We will continue to work together to tackle Violence against Women and Girls, and to reduce alcohol related crime, violence and disorder and create spaces for everyone to enjoy.”
Help on a night out
If you need help on a night out, speak to venue or door staff, street pastors or police officers.
If you see any behaviours that concern you on a night out, tell venue staff immediately or call the police.
Report non-emergency crime via 101 or online at www.northants.police.uk/RO, or in an emergency, always call 999.
Advice for staying safe on a night out
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to share this advice, but sadly there are people who may look to take advantage of you on a night out, so:
- Be aware of what and how much you are drinking – your tolerance for alcohol varies according to a range of factors.
- Always look after your drinks. Don’t leave them unattended, don’t take drinks from strangers or pick up drinks at random – you have no way of knowing what’s in them.
- Stick with your friends – keep an eye on each other and have a plan for getting home safely.
- If you have any concerns about someone’s behaviour or wellbeing, report it immediately to venue staff or to police.
- Find more advice please visit Northamptonshire Police’s website www.northants.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/personal-safety-how-to-stay-safe/
OPFCC Delivery Manager Paul Golley