Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Bradford Police are committed to keeping women safe and are ahead of the issues, taking proactive action in the city.
It comes at a time when there has been a national focus on women’s safety, following reclaiming protests in the streets.
Tackling violence against women and girls is a key priority for the West Yorkshire Mayor and a cross-cutting theme in his policing and crime plan.
Bradford District Police have carried out an operation in parts of the city to deter bad behavior and build an intelligence picture following third-party reports of women being harassed by drivers.
Although there is no suggestion that such behavior is widespread and the reports are circumstantial, police have taken early action to reassure residents of the areas and nip any problems “in the bud” if any cases are found.
Bradford Police have been working with the University of Bradford and Bradford Council on the matter after receiving third party reports from the university before Christmas of unwanted sexual comments made to women in student areas.
Police organized visible patrols in parts of the city at key times to reassure, but also deployed plainclothes officers in other deployments to get a better idea of what was going on.
Officers worked closely with the University and trained staff to raise concerns and submit information to the partnership’s information portal.
The District of Bradford itself is covered by a first district-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) administered by Bradford Council which prohibits drivers from causing activity in cars which may cause a alarm, harassment or distress.
This is by no means a problem just for Bradford, but thanks to the powers of the PSPO, Bradford has taken the initiative and is leading the way with this proactive operation. The police will share their knowledge and learning from the operation with other forces nationwide.
Drivers seen engaging in such activities, ranging from dangerous driving offenses to verbally harassing people on the street, could well be prosecuted under the protection order.
Over the past 6 months, eighteen operations have been carried out and 21 PSPO fines have been issued, including 8 for antisocial conduct and 13 for inappropriate behavior towards women and girls, 19 vehicles have been seized, 72 traffic offenses observed and six people arrested.
Bradford District Police Detective Superintendent Tanya Wilkins said:
“Bradford Police take all reports of violence against women and related offenses such as harassment very seriously, and believe that women should feel safe walking our streets.
“Late last year, officers were made aware of concerns expressed by female students about the behavior of some city drivers that made them feel threatened and unsafe, including harassment and unwanted comments made against them.
“As many of these reports were only third hand, officers have been patrolling identified student areas to better understand any issues and create an intelligent picture of what is happening.
“Uniformed comfort patrols have been and will continue to be underway in the affected areas as well.
“Harassment of women and girls in any way is unacceptable and we will seek to use all necessary police and partnership powers to positively address any issues identified at an early stage.”
Alison Lowe, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said:
“The safety of women and girls is a key priority for the Mayor and myself, and we welcome this proactive partnership initiative.
“No one should have to face harassment or abuse in their daily life and those who think this behavior is acceptable will hopefully feel the effects of this operation firsthand.
“I welcome this targeted activity and will speak further to West Yorkshire Police about how the learning and approach could benefit other areas of the county and beyond.”
Councilor Abdul Jabar, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for Neighborhoods and Community Safety, said:
“No woman or girl should feel unsafe or afraid to go out, so the work we do in partnership with the police and the University of Bradford is essential to stopping the harassment and intimidation coming from a small number of people. We need to send a strong message that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Professor Udy Archibong, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Bradford:
“Everyone has the right to feel safe and the University of Bradford works hard to create an environment where our students and staff feel respected, supported and valued. Any reports of unacceptable behavior are taken very seriously and we are working in partnership with Bradford Council, the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance and West Yorkshire Police to ensure that the city and our campus remain places where everyone feels safe and welcome.The University’s Working Academy played instrumental in developing a hate crimes web application that will allow people to report hate crimes and hate incidents directly from their cell phones.