In response to the tragic murders of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman, Sabina Nessa, Zara Aleena and many others whose stories have not received coverage, a national conversation around women’s safety has taken place and the Safer Ealing Partnership (SEP) conducted a listening exercise to focus on the voices of women and girls.
Listening exercise focuses on women’s voices
More than 3,000 women and girls over the age of 13 took part in the conversation. They shared their thoughts and feedback on what would make them feel safer in the borough. The partnership aimed to listen to women’s feedback and put actions into place to improve women’s safety in public spaces.
Council leader Peter Mason said: “Male violence against women, and women’s safety in public spaces has rightly captured the public consciousness and demands both local and national action.
“Our listening exercise is just the first step in tackling inequality, challenging misogyny, and making Ealing a fair and inclusive place, where everyone is welcome.
“Everyone must both feel and be safe. Only through listening to residents and working with the Metropolitan Police and partner organisations can we make the necessary improvements – and come together to improve the safety of women, and everyone, in our borough.”
The women who took part shared their views via a survey on the ‘Give My View’ platform. There was also an interactive map where people could pinpoint specific locations where they have experienced harassment or felt unsafe. SEP also held a number of focus groups in association with local support organisations: Southall Black Sisters, Eastern European Services and Bollo Brook Youth Centre.
Action plan to improve women’s safety
The feedback shared has enabled the SEP to listen and really understand women’s experiences and focus on the specific needs highlighted by the respondents. The following measures will be put into action to improve the safety of women in the borough.
Street lighting: 93% of women suggested that better lighting would improve safety in public spaces. In response, the council is improving street lighting by the end of October 2022. Alongside, upgrading 3,100 light columns to LED and investing £2.1million in upgrading all remaining streetlighting
Education: Respondents highlighted education as playing an important role in creating long-term change. Ealing will launch an education program offered to every secondary school, to focus on healthy relationships, as well as identifying and challenging unacceptable attitudes and behaviour
Communication: The exercise discovered that 90% of women were unaware of support organisations in the area. The SEP will design a dedicated Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) website. This will provide links to support organisations for women and information on reporting
CCTV: 60% of women suggested that clean and well-maintained areas with CCTV cameras will make them feel safer. 14 new HD CCTV cameras will be installed in key locations. This will include clear signage and QR codes linking to the VAWG website
Reporting: 57% of respondents have experienced unwanted attention in public spaces, of these only 14% have reported incidents. The police in Ealing have committed to an officer contacting all female informants and victims of open-space violence or unwanted sexual attention.
Councillor Aysha Raza, the council’s cabinet member for tackling inequality, would like to extend her thanks to all the people who participated and assisted the SEP in this important piece of work: “Thank you to all the brave and honest women who took part in the consultation. It has been so encouraging to see the thousands of responses – and this is just the start of the conversation. Through listening to your voices, and your experiences, we are able not only to set out the challenges, but also set out real and meaningful action to improving women’s safety in Ealing.”
Read the full Safer Ealing report
To find out more about the listening exercise you can read the full report on the council website:
[Safer Ealing Partnership listening exercise, August 2022]
You can read the full action plan here. There will also be further opportunities to share experiences and give feedback.
StreetSafe is a pilot service for anyone to anonymously tell the police about public places where you have felt or feel unsafe, because of environmental issues, eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, eg being followed or verbally abused. Note: ‘StreetSafe’ is not for reporting crime or incidents.
If something has happened to you or someone you know (including in public spaces online) you can call 101 or find out what online reporting services are available.