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Pilot Scheme To See Police Patrol Clubs In England And Wales
Christian Eede , March 16th, 2021 12:12

Project Vigilant could see plainclothes officers attending areas around bars and clubs, and increased funding for CCTV

Plainclothes police officers could patrol bars and nightclubs around England and Wales, as part of plans to protect women from predatory offenders.

The new plans, part of Thames Valley Police's Project Vigilant, will see the extension of a pilot scheme in which uniformed and plainclothes officers seek to actively identify predatory and suspicious offenders at night. This can involve such officers attending areas around clubs and bars, along with increased police patrols as people leave at closing time.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced that the Government's Safer Streets fund will be doubled to £45 million, improving street lighting and CCTV. The measures follow a meeting of the government's crime and justice taskforce chaired by Johnson.

The measures have been introduced after the House of Lords voted to send the Government's domestic abuse bill back to the Commons for further discussion. The plans have drawn criticism however, with many saying that the Government has largely missed the point as conversations continue around the safety of women following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (March 16), Labour MP Stella Creasy said: "Sarah Everard was not on a night out, so the idea that putting plainclothes police officers in nightclubs is going to solve this problem doesn't recognise that women get abused, assaulted, intimidated in all sorts of places.

"Ask women who've gone for a run recently in broad daylight in their parks about their experiences and you'll realise some of the scale of the challenge. And what strikes me is that 80% of women report being sexually harassed in public spaces but, in those surveys, 90% of them say they never report it because they don't believe anything will change."

UK organisation Good Night Out, which works with club owners and promoters to tackle sexual violence in nightlife venues, also expressed concerns around the plans. Writing on social media, the group said: "We've trained thousands of bar staff to understand and respond to sexual harassment and not a single one has ever said, 'You know what would really help us feel safer? Undercover police in our workplace.'

"The nightlife economy and its workers have been hard hit in the pandemic. They need resources and support to deal with industry challenges including sexual harassment, not spies on the dance floor.⁠⁠" ⁣⁠