The UK is facing an ‘epidemic’ of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that for the year ending March 2023, there were 195,315 sexual offences recorded by the police, which was a 20% increase from the year ending March 2020.
Of the respondents to our 2022 Neighbourhood Watch Crime and Community Survey who had been a victim of crime in the last year, 36% had experienced street harassment. When broken down by age, we can see that for 16–24-year-olds (99) their biggest worry is being harassed, threatened, or verbally abused in the street (55%). Over half of our survey respondents (65%) were worried about assault or street harassment on a national level, which shows a decrease from last year's survey results, but also shows that this is still an urgent issue across England and Wales.
Often victims are so resigned to constant harassment and abuse that they believe it is something they must put up with, as though it's part of daily life.
Together we need to make it clear that we find all forms of harassment unacceptable and take a stand against it.
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO, Neighbourhood Watch
What can we do about it?
We are calling on all adults in England and Wales to stand up against street harassment. There are many ways we can all do this safely irrespective of age, sexual orientation, gender, race, or ethnicity. Together can make a difference.
1. LEARN MORE ABOUT STREET HARASSMENT
Our website pages explain more about what we mean by street harassment, the impact it has on those that experience it and the wider community, what to do if you experience it, support for victims and reporting it.
2. SHARE OUR ‘ARE YOU OKAY?’ CAMPAIGN
Witnessing street harassment and not safely intervening, sends the message to those experiencing it that it’s okay and society normalises it.
Ongoing acceptance of street harassment contributes to a toxic culture. If you see someone experience street harassment, ask them if they are okay. This lets them know you stand by them, and that street harassment is never okay. We can all do this small yet powerful act.
By asking ‘Are you okay?’ we are no longer bystanders, we become active bystanders safely intervening on behalf of someone.
Click here for campaign resources.
3. HELP MAKE STREET HARASSMENT A CRIME
Our Streets Now and Plan International UK are both running campaigns to change the law. You could show your support by signing the petitions and/or writing to your MP. For more information on the petitions and how to write to your MP follow these links.
4. SIGN OUR COMMUNITY SAFETY CHARTER
Sign up to our Community Safety Charter and pledge to take an active stance against harassment. Everyone can sign up from individuals to local groups or businesses. You do not need to be a member of Neighbourhood Watch.
Signing the Charter shows your commitment to tackling the problem and you will receive advice and information to help you understand and act against not only street harassment but other issues too such as antisocial behaviour, intimidation, and hostility towards others.
5. LEARN ABOUT SAFE INTERVENTION TECHNIQUES
Watch the short training video produced by L'Oréal showing examples of harassment and how to safely intervene using the 5Ds approach.
6. DOWNLOAD OUR STREET HARASSMENT TOOLKIT
Our toolkit is designed for our Neighbourhood Watch Volunteers but can be useful for other people wanting to learn more about the problem and solutions in more depth.