More than £1 million is to be invested in community safety projects after Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) secured funding from the Safer Streets scheme.
Bedfordshire Police’s Project Firefly operation will be rolled out across the county and new ways that women and girls can report when they feel unsafe are to be explored.
The funding will also go towards upgraded street lighting, CCTV and other measures.
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The women’s safety programme has been informed by data from surveys, police, Crimestoppers and in consultation with local authorities and women’s charities.
PCC Festus Akinbusoye said: “We want to work together across Bedfordshire to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) and raise awareness about unacceptable behaviour such as sexual harassment.”
Mr Akinbusoye added: “We know that much of this behaviour is driven by male perpetrators, and a key part of this work will focus on encouraging men to step up and speak out about bad behaviour and ways to challenge it. We all have a responsibility to tackle this.”
Mr Akinbusoye explained: “Any victim of violence and abuse deserve to access support and help and this money will help us deliver a number of initiatives across the county to make women and girls feel safer.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, Bedfordshire Police’s lead for male violence against women and girls, said: “This funding is a huge boost for the work we are doing to make women and girls in Bedfordshire feel safe.”
DCS Perkins added: “We have a clear focus here in Bedfordshire on male violence. The vast majority of offences like domestic abuse and sexual assault are committed by male perpetrators against women and girls. These offenders have been put on notice that we are coming after them.
“Things like misogyny and cat calling can be precursors to more serious behaviour, and they make women and girls feel unsafe. We must all call this kind of behaviour out and rid them from our communities.”
Annabelle Goodenough, regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “Crimestoppers are absolutely delighted to be working with partners once again to tackle violence against women and girls.”
Ms Goodenough added: “This is an area of work we feel deeply passionate about, and we look forward to supporting the Safer Streets 4 initiative in Bedfordshire”.