Bath Voice News: as darkness cloaks the city’s streets a debate is sparked over the dangers for night time workers – especially for female workers

By Harry Mottram: Labour councillors won unanimous support for their campaign to get the Council to improve night worker safety when they’re travelling home. The latest ONS data shows that a very large number – 42% – of Bath and North East Somerset’s workers work at night (20% of B&NES’ whole population) – a figure that’s been steady for the last ten years said the Labour Party.

At the 30 Nov meeting of full Council, Labour’s Lesley Mansell (Radstock) called on the Lib Dem administration to consider staff’s safe travel home when they’re looking at licensing decisions, improve street lighting and bus stop safety, and improve the night-time frequency and range of public transport. Another of her proposals – to call on the area’s MPs, Wera Hobhouse and Jacob Rees-Mogg, to work in Parliament for minimum private hire and taxi standards – was also supported by all parties without any disagreement.

 People Safe reported that the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) found that more than half of violent incidents (54%) occurred in the evening or during the night, in this case ranging from 6pm-6am. Although all types of crime have higher rates during the night, it is advisable that employees are made aware of the times that they are most at risk within their own role, for example as crimes within shops are most likely to occur in the early evening from 3pm-6pm, while 59% of sexual assaults occur at night time, putting employees who travel alone at a particularly high risk.

Speaking in the Guildhall’s chamber, Cllr Mansell said how proud she was to bring this Unite union campaign to Bath and North East Somerset. She stressed that a vast number of people – women in particular – work late at night, not only in hospitality but in healthcare, local government, transport and other sectors. These workers are also, she said, often society’s lowest paid. They frequently suffer sexual and verbal harassment as well as physical attacks when they’re going to and from work at night.

“Women and girls feel particularly vulnerable,” she said, “waiting at bus stops in the dark, walking home at night or parking in isolated spots. A recent Government survey said 57% of women don’t feel safe on public transport and 84% feel unsafe waiting for a bus.” She said, “the night-time economy often does not feel like a safe place to be,” and drew attention to B&NES’s 31% increase in recorded violent crimes and sexual assaults last year (ONS, Jan 2023).

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that a night-shift worker is “someone who works outside of standard daytime hours, commonly for a period of between 7pm – 7am”, while the UK government defines night workers as those who regularly work at least 3 hours during this ‘night period.

Various studies have shown that night shift workers are at a higher than average risk of both illness and injury, meaning it is important to understand the additional risks associated with working during the night time.

Labour’s Leader Robin Moss (Westfield) said the Lib Dem council will have to make a concerted effort to do what it agreed to at the meeting, but that the motion had been checked both for legal compliance, and that it was achievable. He said, “politics is the art of the possible – just like community leadership,” acknowledging that protecting night workers will require the council to demonstrate its community leadership and commitment to residents’ safety.

“At a time when news about local government is all financial doom and gloom, it’s positive that we can emphasise what can be done, and how local councils can provide positive leadership. This initiative will not be easy, needing the council to work with a wide range of agencies and businesses, but it is vitally important that night-time workers are safe getting home from work. Many people who work in Bath live outside it, in North East Somerset, and getting back home isn’t easy. Even if you have a car, you often have to park a long distance away from your work, and of course public transport often stops mid-evening. To get B&NES Council to commit to this initiative is only the important first step; next will be revisiting the council’s progress, in a few months’ time.”

How Labour expects this initiative to work out with constraints on finances will be of interest although the principle of increasing safety for night workers had cross party agreement. There is more on People Safety at

Photo from Bath and North East Council of the Christmas market