PEOPLE EXPERIENCE STREET HARASSMENT MORE THAN ANY OTHER CRIME, REPORT NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
- A quarter (23%) of respondents to the Neighbourhood Watch Crime and Community Survey 2022 (25,293 total responses) had experienced a crime in the past 12 months.
- Being harassed, threatened or verbally abused in the street is the crime most experienced (36%) – more than any other crime. This is unchanged from the past two years (36% in 2021 and 33% in 2020). Over eight in ten (82%) of all respondents worry about street harassment as a national issue.
- Neighbourhood Watch is working in partnership with Hackney Council and the Met Police to encourage bystanders to actively and safely intervene when witnessing street harassment.
Shockingly one-quarter (23%) of over 25,000 people who responded to the Neighbourhood Watch Crime and Community Survey 2022 (25,293 total responses) experienced a crime in the past year. Even more concerning than that is that the crime most experienced (36%) was being harassed, threatened, or verbally abused in the street – this is unchanged from the past two years (36% in 2021 and 33% in 2020). Over four-fifths (82%) of all respondents worry about street harassment as a national issue.
Neighbourhood Watch believes the high incidents of street harassment are partly down to the everyday nature of the crimes and incidents and the fact that they are deeply ingrained and tolerated within our culture. The national charity is calling on bystanders to do more to safely intervene when they witness it.
The crime-prevention charity launched a campaign encouraging bystanders, when it is safe to do so, to ask ‘are you okay?’ to the victim when they witness street harassment. The campaign generated thousands of comments online, both for and against intervention, with many people wanting to know more about what is meant by safe intervention.
In response, on National Personal Safety Day (8th Nov), Neighbourhood Watch joined forces with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to bring the public a free expert-led online ‘Stand-Up against Street Harassment’ bystander intervention webinar sponsored by L’Oréal Paris. Over 1,600 Neighbourhood Watch supporters signed up, and an anonymous participant reported feeling “empowered to take action” if they see something.
Now, during the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, an annual campaign running from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th Nov) through to International Human Rights Day (10th Dec), Neighbourhood Watch is rolling out the campaign to Blackstock Road in north London, where Hackney and Islington councils have been working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police to promote community safety.
The 'are you okay?' campaign is now being used in the area in addition to action carried out by the police and the councils, including joint patrols, new mobile CCTV, outreach work with the local street population and drop-ins for the community.
Hackney Council also carried out a consultation on women's safety during last year's 16 days of activism, where it asked them to map the areas where they feel unsafe so it could install improve infrastructure - like better street lighting - or use the data to ask the police for additional patrols.
To help promote safe intervention from bystanders, on the 25th of November, Hackney Council stencilled in chalk paint ‘are you okay’ on the pavements of Blackstock. The Council also promoted Neighbourhood Watch’s Community Safety Charter to residents, businesses, and community groups, as a way of connecting community members and pledging a commitment to tackling antisocial behaviour, violence against women and girls and other crimes and disorders.
Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: "Last year, we carried out a consultation with women and girls, asking them to tell us where they feel unsafe. This has helped us to better understand their concerns and improve spaces, for example through improved street lighting, which we approved funding for last month. This campaign is a welcome call on bystanders to ally with victims and ensure women and girls feel safer."
Superintendent Andy Port said: ‘Everyone has the right to go about their lives without fear of harassment. The Met is committed to tackling street harassment and anti-social behaviour and we understand just how much this blights people lives. We continue to work with the community and partner agencies to make sure our streets are safe for all.’
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said ‘We are proud to be working in partnership with Hackney Council to bring our Community Safety Charter and street harassment campaign to the people within the community. Raising awareness of the scale and impact of crimes in public spaces and empowering people to safely intervene and stand up, particularly against violence against women and girls, helps everyone to feel safer.’
Notes to Editor
- Spokespeople available for interview on this story
- More information about Neighbourhood Watch, including how to join or register a scheme, is available at ourwatch.org.uk and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
About Neighbourhood Watch: Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary movement focused on crime prevention in England and Wales. Over 2.3 million people belong to local schemes supported by voluntary Associations. Neighbourhood Watch Network is an independent charity (registered in England and Wales 1173349) that acts as the movement's national umbrella organisation. Membership of Neighbourhood Watch schemes is open to all and is free, although donations may be requested by local groups. Neighbourhood Watch's website address is ourwatch.org.uk, and the charity can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.