Mayor of London boosts funding to improve safety for women

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on Tuesday announced additional funding to help make venues and public spaces in the capital safer for women at night.

This new investment of £108,000 is on top of the record £60m Khan has already invested in tackling violence against women and girls across London. 

The mayor’s Woman’s Night Safety Charter is part of his Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and was launched in 2018 to make London a city where all women feel confident and welcome at night.

Khan said: “I am determined to make London a place where women feel confident and welcome at night, whatever they’re doing. 

“With many Londoners exercising and playing sport between 6pm and 6am, I am delighted to be working with UK Active, Sport England and Gym Safe Ladies to highlight the steps being taken by the sector to improve women’s safety at night and I urge more gyms to sign up to our charter. ”

Across the country, 22% per cent of women report having been a victim of sexual assault, while 14% of women aged 16 to 19, and 10% of women aged 20 to 24 say they have been a victim of domestic abuse.

In 2020, 99 % of adult offenders sentenced or cautioned for sexual offences in London were men.

Currently more than 700 venues and organisations have signed up to the charter, which consists of seven pledges for any business or organisations that operate between 6pm and 6am to sign up to and show their commitment to women’s safety.

The impact of the charter will be increased by developing specialist training, online resources, an interactive toolkit and best practice guidance to drive up standards tomake venues and public spaces safer for women at night. 

It comes as Khan visited The Gym Group in Battersea to welcome them as the first major 24-hour gym operator to sign up. 

The Gym Group operate 60 gyms across London and an additional 14 gyms across London from Everyone Active, a provider of local leisure, gym, swim and activities facilities, have signed up. 

The Gym Group’s chief operating officer Ann-Marie Murphy said: “The Gym Group is proud to be the first fitness chain to sign the charter. 

“We want to drive the conversation within our sector on these issues, in order to tackle them collectively. It’s critically important to us that women feel safe when they visit our gyms.

“Our gyms are open 24/7 and we want all of our members to feel safe at any time of the day or night. We have a zero-tolerance policy on harassment.”

The mayor claims his charter is already making a difference, with over three quarters of businesses having taken steps to design spaces to make them safer for women at night and almost two thirds having implemented staff training to improve responses to reports of sexual harassment.  

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: “The safety of women and girls in London is our priority and we are doing everything we can to improve safety for women at night. 

“Our charter helps venues and councils to take important steps to improve training for staff and to ensure women get the support they need.

“This funding will enable us to support more businesses with additional resources and tools to ensure that women make the most of everything our capital has to offer.”

However, question marks still remain over the safety of women in the capital, following Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation as commissioner of the Met Police and today marking a year to the day since Sarah Everard’s murder.

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