Police in Cornwall to expand project that tackles violence against women and girls

By Max Goodman

30th Aug 2023 | Local News

The forces presented their new Project NightEye. (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)
The forces presented their new Project NightEye. (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Devon & Cornwall Police have said that they and the Crime Commissioner are committed to tackling violence against women and girls, wherever it happens - not least on a night out, which everyone should be able to enjoy without fear of crime.

This has led to the creation of Project NightEye, a policing approach that makes the evening and night-time a hostile environment for men intent on harassment, or sexual or physical violence.

NightEye has been used in selected locations this summer, the police say these trials will be assessed and used to refine the project prior to it being used in even more locations across Devon and Cornwall. 

Project NightEye is supported by Devon & Cornwall's Serious Violence Prevention Programme and specifically targets potential male perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

On the police website, it states the aim of the project: "To prevent sexual and other crimes by proactively identifying predatory sexual behaviour and intervening to prevent this from escalating to an offence.

"This could include groups or individual men, either on foot or in vehicles, loitering for no reason. It could include men making unwanted contact with women, attempting to isolate women from their friends on a night out, or making lewd or sexual comments.

"Local police officers actively work in collaboration with partners, such as venue and security staff to identify and target potential offenders."

One tactic used within Project NightEye is Project Vigilant, involving specially trained officers (either in plain clothes or uniform) patrolling outside bars and clubs, between specific times and in places identified to be more likely to have crimes reported.

See it, say it, stop it is part of their new campaign. (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Thames Valley Police successfully trialled the Project Vigilant tactic in 2019 in Oxford - it showed a reduction in sexual offending of 30% and a reduction in rapes by 50%, in the evening and night-time economy. Devon & Cornwall Police is now looking to emulate this success.

To support Project NightEye, training has also been delivered to CCTV operators in identifying predatory sexual behaviour.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker said: "Everyone can help make public spaces safer by reporting suspicious or unacceptable behaviour to the police, so if you see something that doesn't look right or makes you feel uncomfortable, please let us know through our online reporting forms, or submit anonymously through Crimestoppers. This helps Devon & Cornwall Police to target where and when Project NightEye is used".

Members of the public can also use the StreetSafe app, available for both iPhone and Android devices. The app allows anyone to anonymously report public places where they have felt unsafe for whatever reason, such as being followed or verbally abused.

The information it provides is invaluable to the police for building a picture of where best to deploy their resources, and for partner agencies to consider if any environmental improvements can be made.

T/ACC Parker added: "With police, partners, and the public working together, it is imperative that we call out, target, and robustly manage criminal offending that disproportionately affects women and girls.

"Project NightEye sends out a clear message to predatory men that their behaviour will not be tolerated. Anyone out at night should be confident that Devon & Cornwall Police is targeting those who choose to harass or assault women or girls, and also men or boys."

The Police & Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, said: "I have prioritised tackling violence in my Police & Crime Plan, particularly violence against women and girls, so I'm encouraging people to report concerns straightaway. This is about all of us speaking out if something doesn't seem right and not turning a blind eye to harassment and violence. I want all women and girls to stay safe on a night out and feel confident that their safety is our concern".


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