A new Women’s Night Safety Charter to help improve women’s safety across the region has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) today.
The charter, the first of its kind in the region, sets out guidance for venues, operators, charities, councils and businesses to improve safety at night for women – including better training of staff, encouraging the reporting of harassment and ensuring public spaces are safe.
More than 50 business have already signed up – including the NEC Group, the HMV Empire in Coventry, and Kings Heath’s iconic Hare and Hounds pub.
Now West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and WMCA Night Time Economy Advisor Alex Claridge are encouraging more councils, businesses, venues and other organisations to sign the charter and help improve women’s safety.
The charter’s measures, which include plans to appoint a Women’s Night Safety Champion for the West Midlands, are part of a new bold vision for how a safe and thriving night-time economy can operate in the region.
Mayor Andy Street said: “We are fortunate in the West Midlands to have an incredible night time economy, but it’s clear we need to do more both to support the hospitality sector and improve night time safety.
“That’s why I appointed a new night time economy advisor in Alex, and why one of our first actions together is to launch this charter as part of our plans to improve women’s safety across the West Midlands.
“The charter has real practical actions to help bolster women’s safety – including businesses providing better training and awareness – which is why we’re encouraging as many places as possible to sign up and implement the charter’s recommendations. Day or night, everyone in the West Midlands has a right to feel safe.”
The seven principles of the West Midlands Women’s Night Safety Charter are:
- Champion: Appoint a champion to drive forward action.
- Communicate: Create a positive public/staff facing communications campaign, both online and in venues.
- Support your staff: Make clear the routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour while at work and supporting cultural change.
- Support the public: Communicate routes for reporting unacceptable behaviour while using a business service or space at night.
- Training: Provide staff training and any relevant policies, including what staff can and cannot say and do.
- Recording: Ensure staff training on information sharing and appropriate recording of details.
- Design for safety: Audit venues and spaces and adapt them to promote a safer environment and reduce risk of crime and sexual misconduct.
Alex Claridge, who as well as being the WMCA’s Night Time Economy Advisor also owns the award-winning Wilderness restaurant in Birmingham, said: “Whilst it is undeniable that nor myself or the Mayor will ever fully understand the experience of women in this region – it is right and proper that the West Midlands is stepping up, together, to commit to a safer nightlife.
“The Women’s Night Safety Charter, alongside a safety charter focused on LGBTQ+ safety, will form the cornerstone of a new agenda for the region focused on ensuring the brilliance we see from businesses across the region is not overshadowed by the unacceptable behaviour of the few.”
The West Midlands charter has been inspired by the pledges created for the Mayor of London’s Women’s Night Safety Charter, which was drafted to support the future of London’s nightlife after 6pm.
Amy Lamé, Night Czar for the Greater London Authority (GLA), said: “We’ve had such a positive reaction to the Women’s Night Safety Charter in London since it launched with over 2,100 businesses and organisations signing up and it has been adopted by cities across the UK and around the world.
“I’m thrilled that Mayor Andy Street and the WMCA will be rolling out the charter across the region. I hope businesses and organisations across the West Midlands, no matter how big or small, sign up and help build a safer night time for women.”
One organisation in support of the charter is Six till Six, a leading leisure, hospitality and night time economy consultancy.
Sylvia Oates, the CEO of Six till Six, said: “I’m thrilled to support the WMCA’s launch of the Women’s Night Safety Charter. Everyone should feel safe while working or socialising at night.
“The local authorities, police, businesses, Business Improvement Districts and other important partners in the night time economy already work hard to ensure a safe and welcoming environment, with initiatives such as the venue accreditation scheme Best Bar None which is in place in several venues across the region.
“This charter amplifies those efforts. It’s a collaborative commitment to elevate safety standards, creating an inclusive environment where everyone, regardless of gender, feels secure during their night out.
“I commend this proactive approach and invite the wider community to sign up and champion a safer and more vibrant night time experience across the West Midlands.”
Martha Harrison and Daz Scott, the founders and directors of Calico, a social enterprise which raises awareness about women’s safety through the medium of theatre and dance, said: “We applaud the launch of the Women’s Night Safety Charter in the West Midlands.
“As young women ourselves, we personally recognise the urgency of creating safer night-time spaces, and are encouraged by the WMCA’s commitment to enabling systematic change.
“We urge every entity in the West Midlands to sign up, join this movement, and contribute to making our streets and night-time venues truly welcoming and secure for everyone.”
Jack Young and Sam Hennerley, co-founders of Safer Dance, said: “It’s imperative that the safety of our night time economy venues are prioritised and managed effectively.
“We believe that by creating the necessary culture of respect and following an approach that allows venues to acknowledge, commit, plan and continuously improve will future proof the viability of night time economy venues within the West Midlands region.
“We commend and are in full support of the creation of the West Midlands Safety Charter and look forward to seeing, hearing and experiencing the impact this has on confidence across our region for staff, customers and night time economy stakeholders.
“The West Midlands can be and will be a haven for safe, fun experiences on both an emotional and physical level.”
Organisations can get involved and sign up to the Charter here.
West Midlands Combined Authority Press Release.