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Tackling violence against women and girls in Southampton

How have officers have been tackling violence against women and girls at night? 

Whilst we have always patrolled the city centre streets lined bars and clubs on weekends, the work that has been going on over the last year has been more than just patrols and responding to incidents when they happen. 

We’ve been focussing more and more on prevention and working together with partners to

  • identify potential perpetrators and target them
  • identify people who are vulnerable and protect them
  • This means that we have been working with a number of other agencies also on duty at this time of night to identify men showing predatory behaviour and intervening before it escalates. 

    You may have seen some coverage in local media recently on this. 

    Specifically, we have been working with licensed premises and encouraging professionals to intervene when they see something isn’t right, like women being subjected to unwanted behaviour. 

    In addition, Street Pastors and Welfare Officers in Licensed Premises are looking out for those who are vulnerable, upset, on their own, or appear unwell, alongside the help of St John’s Ambulance staff. 

    Licensed premises have also been setting up Safe Spaces in their premises and have been making it easier for women to report incidents, and encouraging staff to notice vulnerabilities and call out behaviour. 

    We’re all working together, sharing information, and setting up initiatives to make sure people have a safer night and take action against those showing concerning behaviour. 

    Whilst we will always look to arrest if a crime has been reported to us, this initiative aims to use other powers to prevent it from getting that far. Instead, we have been issuing orders prohibiting people identified as a risk from being in the area, and getting them to leave. Specifically men harassing or approaching women. 

    This is where no offences have been reported but their behaviour has been identified as worrying – a bit like a ‘red flag.’ 

    So far, we’ve issued 

  • More than 200 dispersal orders in the city between April 2021 and March 2022 to exclude certain people from the area who are causing anti-social behaviour or displaying concerning, unwanted behaviour.
  • More than 180 post-conviction orders have been applied for which ban people from licensed premises following a conviction
  • 2 Community Protection Warnings, stopping someone from entering the area at all after they have been observed to continually behave a certain way 
  • These actions are there to help protect women from harm.  

    On most occasions, people can be spoken to about their behaviour and warned, but when this isn’t enough, officers have used these orders as a preventative measure to relentlessly pursue perpetrators. Not only trying to make women and girls feel safer, but also sending a clear message to men who think they can intimidate, continue to harass or invade women’s spaces, that Hampshire is not the place for them. 

    We know that some people will argue that men are victims too. Absolutely, they are. Men are victims of violent offences, normally committed by other men, men are also victims of sexual offences. This initiative is not ignoring men as victims. It’s targeting those who are perpetrators, caring for those who need our help.


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    James Butler
    (Police, Media Relations Officer, Hampshire and Isle of Wight)

    Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials