Bristol business urged to take action to protect women at night

A national survey conducted in 2021 showed that 97% of the people surveyed had been harassed or had known someone who has been

Businesses in Bristol are being encouraged to sign up to the city's first Women’s Safety Charter in a bid to protect women at night.

The charter includes seven commitments to practical steps businesses can take to help keep women who work in the night-time economy safer.

It has been developed by Bristol Nights, working with Bristol City Council, Bristol’s Violence Against Women and Girls specialists, night-time venues and Avon and Somerset Police.

A national survey conducted in 2021 showed that 97% of the people surveyed had been harassed or had known someone who has been.

One woman in Bristol told ITV News she felt concerns about her safety at night.

"I'd love to be able to walk at night and walk to the gym at night and not have to worry about it, and go out with just the girls", she said.

Another woman said: "The cat-calling, touch of the bum, just a general invasion of personal space. It's part of a standard night out unfortunately".

A survey in Bristol found that one in six venues said they have experienced harassment at their venue, with most choosing to use a zero-tolerance policy.

Marti Burgess, owner of Lakota Nightclub, said: "We take the safety of women very seriously and are constantly looking at ways in which we can spot threats, challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide a safe environment for all."

"Despite our efforts and those of many other venues it’s clear that we need a collective effort across sectors to tackle the rise in harassment being seen in the sector. This new charter and the training being rolled out is a welcome step and one that will help bring the right people and organisations together to improve the experience of the night-time economy for women.”

Carly Heath is Bristol's Night Time Economy Advisor

Carly Heath, Night time Economy Advisor at Bristol City Council said: "Every single woman we spoke to in Bristol has experienced some form of sexual harassment.

"When we spoke to men, over half weren't even able to name what sexual harassment was.

"It shouldn't be something just women have to deal with. It shouldn't be just our responsibility. We need allies across the city."

The Women's Safety Charter for Bristol Businesses:

1. Champion - Appoint a named contact for this work who will champion and drive forward any action taken.

2. Communicate - Create a positive public/staff facing communications campaign, both online and in your space.

3. Support your Staff - Make clear the routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour while at work and supporting cultural change.

4. Support the Public - Communicate routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour while using your service or space at night.

5. Training: responding - Provide staff training and any relevant policies, including what you can and cannot say and do.

6. Training: recording - Ensure staff training on information sharing and appropriate recording of details.

7. Design for safety - Audit your spaces and adapt them to promote a safer environment and reduce risk of crime and sexual misconduct.

By signing up to the charter, businesses will be offered practical advice and training on how to make things safer for their female employees who work during the night as well as their customers.