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More cash for Safer Streets but PCCs warn years of work are ahead

British Transport Police is among the forces to get Safer Streets funding cash.

The Home Office announced the funding as part of a £23.5m initiative to improve neighbourhoods. But PCCs have unanimously warned money for CCTV is not enough.

The latest Safer Streets cash grants are prioritising ways to reduce violence against women and girls following the Sarah Everard case.

For the first time, British Transport Police was among the beneficiaries from government moves to improve safety in public spaces.

BTP got £550,000 to tackle spaces near the railways and stations it patrols.

Home Office figures published two weeks ago revealed more than 600,000 women aged 16-74 were sexually assaulted and nearly 900,000 women aged 16-59 were stalked in the year to March 2020.

The fund has £70m to spend by the end of the financial year. Round two saw 50 projects across England and Wales awarded a total of £18.4m.

It means more than 100 projects across England that have now been given the green light.

But better CCTV will take years to get to up to standard after years of under-funding.

And Chiefs have warned the Criminal Justice System neeeds to be in better shape to see convictions through to prosecutions.

Leicestershire is getting £550,000 to invest in CCTV across the force’s area. Lighting and CCTV will be installed at 31 sites including those close to two universities that have been lobbying for better security for more than a decade.

Northumbria is getting £775,397,00 and West Yorkshire has successfully secured a further £655,000.

Northumbria PCC and Deputy Prevention Lead Kim McGuinness said: "Sarah Everard’s murder earlier this year brought the conversation around violence against women and girls to the fore.

"In Northumbria, for example, 60% of women told me that they are uncomfortable moving around and using public transport at night. The additional money we have received will make a real difference in addressing the feeling of fear women feel in our streets, on our transport networks and in our parks.”

West Yorkshire will be putting some of the cash into training for frontline staff on conflict management and challenging inappropriate behaviour, as well as further research and confidence building initiatives.

A second initiative in West Yorkshire is also receiving funding to develop a higher/further education package to support womens’ safety and generate behaviour change in men.

This includes active bystander training, a male role model and consent campaign, personal safety training, and additional support and awareness raising of victims’ services.

Mayor Tracy Brabin said: “These two projects are going to set a blueprint for tackling some key areas of concern such as safety in public spaces, education and behavioural change in men, aspects that I have long called for more focus on.

“As the detail of these initiatives show, there is no simple solution, but I will continue to work locally and nationally, with the police, partners and communities to bring about the changes that are desperately needed for everyone to feel safe.”

Cheshire has netted £1.1m but its PCC, John Dwyer, was among those warning making an impact would take years and would need sustained effort.

“I’m under no illusion that we have a long way to go. I’ll continue to support the Constabulary in any way I can so we can continue making progress on this issue,” he said. “Behind these statistics are real stories of our sisters, mothers and daughters who have been targeted and victimised.”

The APCC’s deputy lead said wider society would also have to make changes as policing alone could not arrest the UK out of the problem.

Kim McGuinness said the funding was a start but added: "We need, however, to look at longer-term cultural change, through education and interventions, in recognition of the need to make combatting street harassment, stalking, and sexual assault in public spaces everybody’s business. Safer streets is part of the solution but there is a lot to do."

North East

Lead bidder Grant funding awarded (£) Number of bids covered
Cumbria PCC 191,583.96 1
Durham PCC 453,813.00 1
Northumbria PCC 775,397.00 2
Total £1,420,793.96  

North West

Lead bidder Grant funding awarded (£) Number of bids covered
Blackpool Borough Council 550,000.00 1
Cheshire PCC 1,100,000.00 2
Greater Manchester Combined Authority 549,744.00 1
Merseyside PCC 269,931.00 1
Total £2,469,675.00  

South East

Lead bidder Grant funding awarded (£) Number of bids covered
Essex PCC 550,000.00 1
Hampshire PCC 648,755.06 2
Kent PCC 741,548.00 2
Surrey PCC 174,772.49 1
Sussex PCC 976,781.80 2
Thames Valley PCC 939,940.00 2
Total £4,031,797.35  

South West

Lead bidder Grant funding awarded (£) Number of bids covered
Cornwall Council 33,649.06 1
Dorset Council 379,766.00 1
Gloucestershire PCC 1,061,478.00 2
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