Hair Emporium is one of the businesses to join the Safe Space Accreditation Scheme
Residents who feel worried, at risk or in danger will be offered refuge with businesses as part of a scheme to make people feel safer.
A network of businesses in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Hucknall are being kitted out with free state-of the-art 4G Ultra HD CCTV systems as well as signs, lighting and training for staff to enhance security, safety and support to vulnerable groups, including women and girls.
Ashfield District Council, Nottinghamshire Police and the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner have teamed up with local companies to offer the Safe Space Accreditation Scheme. Several firms have already signed up and more are actively being recruited to join the growing network of support.
The Hair Emporium, in Low Moor Road, is one of the businesses that has already joined the scheme, taking the chance to receive the free security equipment and training.
Company partner Sallyanne Dexter said: “One of my girls was here late one evening and someone came in demanding money.
“The Safe Space scheme gives us that extra reassurance to our staff because of the CCTV, and there’s people in the town that sometimes need help and support if there’s gangs of lads around and we can provide that safe space.”
Another businesses that is already benefitting is the Vets4Pets branch in nearby Kingsway, where all its staff are women.
Claire Bullock, registered veterinary nurse at the practice, said the addition of CCTV outside the building were reassuring for staff and customers alike.
"As an all-female business, the provision of the CCTV enables us to feel safer and secure when at work. It is imperative for our colleagues to feel protected when at work,” she said.
"We feel that in participating in this scheme, we are providing a safe space for the community and ensuring that they feel at ease when visiting our practice.
"The addition of the CCTV outside the practice has also helped to reassure our colleagues when leaving at night and arriving in the morning, especially when it’s dark."
The introduction of the Safe Space Accreditation Scheme in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Hucknall comes after its successful rollout in Sutton-in-Ashfield last year, as part of the Safer Streets project.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has since secured more Safer Streets funding from the Home Office to pay for the safety measures in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. The Hucknall roll-out will be funded through Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry’s Safer4All scheme.
“The Safe Spaces Accreditation Scheme aims to give people in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Hucknall a real sense that there is a support network looking out for them when they go out in public,” said Commissioner Henry.
“Any time they are in distress or feel unsafe they can find sanctuary in one of the many shops and businesses in the towns.
“This is a great example of partner agencies and the community working together to make our public spaces safer.”
The scheme, which comes at no cost to the business, focuses on ending violence against women and girls and has been commissioned in response to an independent safety survey undertaken in the summer, which revealed that 43% of women and girls said there feel that their gender makes them feel less safe when in public, and 26% said they have experienced sexual harassment in public places.
The Safe Space Accreditation scheme is one of many measures being delivered as part of the Safer Streets and Safer4all initiatives, aimed at improving feeling of safety across the district. Others include additional high-visibility patrols from the Police and Council, new CCTV and street lighting, gating of alleyways, diversionary activity and support to vulnerable residents.
Cllr Helen-Ann Smith, Ashfield District Council Executive Lead Member for Community Safety, said: “At Ashfield District Council, we know women, girls and vulnerable groups can feel unsafe when out and about on their own. This is something we have been taking positive action to address. We hope that the launch of this latest scheme will help them to feel safer.
“It is great to see that a number of businesses have already signed up, and I would encourage any business out there to sign up and become a part of the scheme. This project is a real example of how partnership working between the Council, Police and Police and Crime Commissioner is having a positive effect on our communities.”
Chief Inspector Chris Sutcliffe, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “These safe spaces will give any member of the public, especially women, girls, and vulnerable people the knowledge that there is a safety blanket at these shops if they ever need help or support.
“We want to help residents feel as safe as possible in their communities and initiatives like this as well as improving lighting and training for staff at the shops will hopefully make the public feel safer.
“This is a great example of teamwork between the police and our partners with the joint main aim of keeping people safe.
“I hope many more businesses in the area join the scheme and help us all work together to protect and reassure members of the community that support and help is available.”
Posted on Thursday 16th February 2023