Council working with community groups to provide safer spaces for women

West Lothian Council will consult with community groups to develop policies of ensuring women’s safety in public places.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:06 pm
West Lothian Council is working with a local community group in efforts to provide safer spaces for women.

An initial report was presented to the Partnership and Resources PDSP following adoption of a joint motion from depute council leader Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan and SNP councillor Moira Shemilt.

Julie Whitelaw, Head of Corporate Services told the PDSP outlined the work done since that motion was agreed in May. In a report She said: “The council

will engage with Community Planning partners, the Violence against Women and Girls Committee and Women’s Aid in promoting the consultation and analysing the responses to the consultation. The council’s equality officer will support equality groups to engage in the consultation. The outcome of the consultation will be reported to the Panel. ”

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The council already one of the few in Scotland that core funds a team to help domestic violence victims and strong links with women’s groups and the police already exist.

The report added: “Officers will conduct a review of good practice and examples of policy development across local authorities and will consider what policy interventions can be introduced to alleviate or prevent violence against women in public spaces. For example, officers will consider the impact of the “ask for Angela” campaign introduced in England in 2016 that is used by bars and other venues to keep women safe from sexual assault by using a codeword to identify when they are in danger or are in an uncomfortable situation. Officers will also consider the UN Women’s global initiative, Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls,”

Any new policies introduced to promote safer spaces for women will rest on a wider consultation with community groups, including organisations like sports clubs and community councils.

The results of these will come back to the Panel for its October meeting.

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick praised officers for their swift response. “It’s good to see this come forward so quickly,” he said.

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