The Reclaim The Downs march has begun, with around 100 campaigners taking to The Downs in Clifton to protest against the recent sexual assaults.
Numbers building for tonight's Reclaim The Downs march. Campaigners object to police issuing safety advice to women. http://t.co/UEryO1cGyJ
And they're off! Numbers lower than they'd anticipated (approx 100) but still noisy and hard to miss. http://t.co/Z2bzm8gUdw
Hundreds of people are expected to march across Bristol's Clifton Downs tonight, protesting that the area has become unsafe.
There have been five attacks reported to police in the last three months. The most recent was just over a week ago, when a man jumped out of bushes and tried to grab a female jogger.
As well as opening an investigation and stepping up patrols, the police have issued safety advice, which has been controversial. This has included warning joggers and walkers to stick to well-lit areas, not to use mobiles or headphones, to consider carrying personal alarms, and to vary their routes.
Some have been uneasy at the perceived emphasis on the victim rather than the perpetrator, and this has been part of the inspiration for tonight's protest.
Avon and Somerset Police have released a statement in response to their concerns.
We understand any incidents of sexual assault will cause concern in the local community and we’d like to reassure people that our focus has been on catching the offenders.
We’ve committed significant resources into these investigations and following the initial incidents in early March, we’ve been carrying out increased patrols of the area, including mounted officers, to deter further offences and provide a visible public reassurance.
We’ve received a very positive response from the community to our response and I’d like to thank everyone who has come forward with information so far.
We want people to continue to see the Clifton Downs as a safe and unique space for everyone to enjoy.
Catching offenders and ensuring the public’s safety will always be a top priority and our message couldn’t be clearer – victims of crime are never to blame.
Our advice is for people to consider their personal safety at all times, but we don’t tailor these messages as they apply to everyone. We remind people of key safety messages following an incident purely to raise awareness.
We take a very positive and proactive approach to dealing with perpetrators of sexual offences and now use a range of policing methods to identify potential offenders and spot emerging crime trends.
We also take an integrated approach to managing those who commit or are at risk of committing sexual offences and along with our partner agencies, we’re absolutely committed to doing everything we can to stop these abhorrent crimes.
Caron Bell will be reporting live from the Downs on tonight's ITV News West Country, interviewing the protest organisers. See her report from 6pm.
Police are appealing for help to find a woman wanted in connection with a serious assault.
A man was seriously injured after an assault on Wells Road, Bristol, allegedly involving 40-year-old Louise Gubb from Brislington.
Gubb has long blonde and brown hair, and is about 5ft 8ins tall
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