Bath Voice News: Avon and Somerset Police to trial new initiative to prevent sexual offences on nights out 

From the Police: Over the coming months, we will be trialling a new proactive policing initiative to target and prevent sexual offences from taking place on a night out. 

Last year, we received 3,539 reports of sexual offences across Avon and Somerset, 84% of which were reported by women and girls. As part of this proactive operation, plain-clothed officers will patrol busy night-time areas to identify those displaying signs of predatory behaviour such as loitering, harassment and following lone women. If such behaviour is spotted, uniformed officers will intervene, checking that everyone involved is safe and preventing any further offences from taking place.  

Thames Valley Police launched ‘Project Vigilant’ in 2019 and it has proven successful in identifying potential offenders and reducing sexual offences by 30% in Oxford.  

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Marsh said: “This operation will allow officers to identify possible predatory behaviour which could indicate someone looking to commit a sexual offence. Our officers have received specialist training to identify patterns of behaviour which may pose a risk to women, girls, or vulnerable people, allowing us to step in before any offences have occurred. 

“Our intention is not to disrupt anyone’s night out or stop people from having fun, We hope that having this presence around our pubs, clubs, bars and busy street areas will mean women can feel safer on a night out.” 

We encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault, recently or in the past, to report it. You can do so either online at Report | Avon and Somerset Police or by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency or if a sexual assault has just occurred.  

If you feel uncomfortable on a night out, you can also ‘Ask for Angela’ at participating venues where staff will be trained to offer you support. It’s always best to raise your concerns to someone, be that a uniformed police officer in the vicinity, or a member of staff or security within the venue.  

You can also use the online ‘Street Safe’ tool to report areas anonymously on a map where you don’t feel safe, be it from poorly lit walkways to experiencing instances of public harassment. Find out more at: Alternatively, if you’d like to have the opportunity to meet with a female officer from your local policing team and show them any areas in your local area that you have experienced feeling unsafe, you can register for a Walk and Talk here and a member of your local team will get back to you to arrange: Walk and Talk | Avon and Somerset Police