Column: Women and girls have every right to feel safe in Derbyshire
Like most people, I want to see better measures in place to protect and defend women and girls from harm, writes Angelique Foster, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
This doesn’t just mean a more effective and robust criminal justice system, it means extensive changes in the way we prevent and deter crime to stop violence happening in the first place.
Women and girls have every right to feel safe and secure in Derbyshire and everyone has a responsibility for delivering that safety, especially in situations where there is increased risk or vulnerability.
This is acknowledged by the Home Office through its latest Safer Streets round which will bring investment in practical improvements to reduce violence against women and girls and increase their feeling of safety in public spaces across the country.
Small measures can save lives and protect those at risk. The onus should not fall on women to change their behaviour to prevent themselves from being attacked.
As an example, the Department for Transport has made it clear it supports the appropriate use of CCTV in taxi/private hire vehicles to safeguard passengers and drivers. I agree.
CCTV systems that record video and audio not only deter and prevent harm from happening it also reduces fear and can be a valuable source of evidence when called upon by police.
I have been encouraged by the recent recommendation to mandate CCTV in taxis across North East Derbyshire. If approved by full council, it will be the first time in the county an authority has taken such steps and I applaud it.
I will actively encourage and support other councils in Derbyshire to follow suit. Such initiatives will improve the protection of passengers and drivers and send a clear message to anyone intent on causing harm.
Nationally, only a small number of licensing authorities have so far mandated all vehicles to be fitted with CCTV systems. What is reassuring, however, is the positive experiences of passengers and drivers in those that have.
Violence against women and girls will be a key feature in my Police and Crime Plan, due to be published later this year. I intend to prioritise the work to tackle this type of crime and step up the support we provide to victims.