New charter brought in to improve safety for women and girls in Devon

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A new charter has been launched in Exeter to help women and girls feel confident and safe in the city.

A survey of more than fifteen hundred women in Exeter found a quarter had been affected by a sexual offence and 86 percent said they would feel unsafe or very unsafe walking down a street or alley by themselves.

The Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) was unveiled at the University of Exeter.

It is a seven point pledge for businesses, entertainment venues and others to commit to improving and enhancing safety for women in and around the city centre.

Safety of Women at Night

Meanwhile, the Violence Against Women and Girls Commission in Plymouth will now be publishing its findings in May - two months later than planned.

Plymouth City Council said it made the decision because of the overwhelming amount evidence it has received - with more than 1,300 people sharing their experiences.

The murder of Lorraine Cox in Exeter in September 2020 brought renewed focus on women's safety.

Lorraine Cox was killed after a night out in Exeter on 1 September 2020 Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Jeanette Brown from More Positive Me, a Community Interest Company which works with people affected by domestic abuse, said the charter is a step in the right direction but should have come sooner.

"It's a real shame that it takes a death in the public eye to bring the subject back to the forefront again," she said.

Simon Arliss, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "We've heard routinely about victim blaming and it's really important that men and boys understand that we all have a role in women's safety and all of us can play our part. And I mean all of us.

"So not just the authorities, but bystanders, you know, that's a very key part in it. If we see something that we know we feel is wrong, let us do something about, let's say something. Let's see what we can to change that behaviour."