New video and police operation shines a light on male violence against women and girls
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Survivors of harassment, sexual assault and domestic abuse have shared their experience in a new campaign to highlight the impact of male violence against women and girls.
The video highlights real stories of women working in the force as well as other agencies involved in protecting women and girls in Bedfordshire, with the aim of encouraging people to challenge unacceptable behaviour and report it.
The campaign coincides with the launch of proactive police operation targeting male violence against women and girls tonight (Friday) in Bedford town centre.
Project Firefly, which will start in Bedford before being rolled out across the county, aims to ensure women don’t have to face unwanted and unacceptable behaviour in things like bars and clubs.
The project includes specialist training for police officers who go out on patrol as well as licensed premises, an increased police presence and a social media campaign aimed at challenging perpetrators of male violence and abuse.
Over the past fortnight, men who have committed violence and sexual abuse against women and girls in Bedfordshire have been jailed for more than 50 years overall.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, the force’s lead for male violence against women and girls, said: “Sadly, some men behave in an appalling way towards women and girls. Enough is enough – this has to stop.
“Things like misogynistic attitudes, cat calling or groping may not seem to be serious crimes, but they could indicate that someone is capable of far more dangerous behaviour. They also make women and girls feel unsafe.
“We must all do more to challenge these attitudes and behaviour and we are working on a number of different project across the county to eradicate them.
“With a significant focus on targeting perpetrators, we will be looking to hold people engaging in this abhorrent behaviour accountable and take police action where we can.
“We are working to create a safer environment for women and girls across Bedfordshire, working with a number of partners, and are committed to earning the public’s trust that we understand these issues and are committed to getting our response right.”
Chief Inspector Alex House, leading on Project Firefly, said: “With increased policing and specialist training, we are targeting perpetrators of male violence against women and girls through the way we deploy and engagement.
“We have reshaped the way our officers carry out night time patrols and the tactics we use, and officers will focus on that early intervention, spotting those early signs and behaviours of street harassment and challenging them before they can escalate.
“Whilst the project has just launched, we are working closely with a number of premises and partners already to get support from across the county.
“Predatory behaviour has no place in Bedfordshire and we are taking a stand to stop it.”
Although this campaign focuses on male violence against women and girls, Bedfordshire Police remains committed to tackling all forms of abuse, supporting victims of any gender, and tackling both male and female offenders.
You can also contact Bedfordshire Victim Care Services for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported or not. The experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice. They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey.
Victim care co-ordinators will also discuss the benefits of restorative justice, which gives victims the opportunity to tell the offender about the real impact the crime they committed has had on them.
You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre by visiting the website, emailing [email protected] or calling 01234 897052. They offer free support and practical help to anyone in Bedfordshire and Luton who has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse.