Published: 05 October 2021

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer and Chief Constable, Mark Roberts, have welcomed the announcement that Cheshire will receive £1.1 million from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund – The joint-highest award in the country.

The third round of the Safer Streets Fund made £23.5 million available for Commissioners and local authorities to bid for and John Dwyer made two bids, supported by Cheshire Constabulary, each worth £550,000. The bids will enhance the Constabulary’s efforts to tackle violence against women and girls in the county and create enhanced safety for all.

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said:

“Tackling violence against women and girls is a key part of my Police and Crime Plan, so I’m delighted that these two bids have been successful. If these schemes are successful, then I want to roll out similar programmes across the county so that every single person in Cheshire will benefit.”

“The success of these bids, and our determination to do even more, I hope goes some way to reassuring women and girls of the work that Cheshire police does to take their safety seriously. This comes following the concerns raised after the tragic murder of Sarah Everard and the sentencing of her killer.”

The first bid focuses on Warrington town centre and will provide a training package of guardianship programmes for people involved in the night-time economy, increased CCTV and street lighting, and a safer taxi scheme to create a network of accredited drivers.

This bid will also provide funding for an educational behavioural change programme in Warrington’s High schools and Colleges. This programme will educate students about harmful behaviour, and will specifically shift the focus away from victim-blaming to accountability for perpetrators.  The programme will also look at giving young people the confidence to challenge and recognise inappropriate behaviour.

John Dwyer added:

“I was very clear that these bids needed to focus on changing perpetrator behaviour and educating people about why these crimes are abhorrent. These programmes will reinforce the message that it is never the victim’s fault, and whilst we can take steps to prevent crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls, total responsibility lies with the people who commit them.”

The second successful bid will see a partnership with the University of Chester, working to support students on campus at four sites in Chester, as well as in Warrington and at University Centre Reaseheath. There will be behaviour-change education for all students alongside training for staff on how to support victims and manage disclosures. Additionally, there will be a dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advisor who will be appointed to provide a single point of contact for victims.

There will be improvements to physical infrastructure through the installation of more CCTV cameras and better street lighting covering mapped routes for students so they feel safe around University sites. There are also plans to enhance the current University of Chester app to allow for crime reporting and referral to support services. To reduce vulnerability, it is intended that the app would allow live location sharing with staff and the police for those students who are walking alone. Importantly, all the ideas have come from those who have lived experience, or organisations who support victims.

Mark Roberts, Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, said:

“I’m delighted this funding has been secured to help support the constabulary with the ongoing work of making Cheshire an even safer place to live, work, study and visit.

“The safety of women and girls is rightly a national key priority and one which is fully supported across Cheshire. This funding will definitely help to make a difference. We will continue to listen and learn, working with survivors, the public and other police forces to continually improve the way we tackle violence against women and girls. We are consulting experts, practitioners and other agencies in this area to make sure our strategy is as strong as it can be and delivers the service that our communities deserve.”

Chief Executive at Warrington Borough Council, Professor Steven Broomhead MBE, said:

“The council is extremely pleased that Warrington will benefit from additional funding as part of the Government’s Safer Streets scheme.

“This will enable us to target some of the key issues that were recently highlighted in a Safety of Women and Girls survey, in which we received very useful feedback from across the borough about improvements we can make.

“Over the coming months, we will be working very closely with the Commissioner and other partners to make the best use of this additional funding, which will not only include improvements to areas such as street lighting and CCTV in the Town Centre, which were areas highlighted in our survey, but also look to influence cultural change through an education and training programme across our schools, colleges and university, so that we can improve the safety of women and girls within our borough.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at the University of Chester, Dr Helen Galbraith, said:

“We are thrilled with the successful outcome of this bid for funding. This funding will make a real difference, across the University and locally, in increasing and raising awareness of support for addressing sexual violence and harassment. We look forward to working with the Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office, with our staff and students, and with other local stakeholders to deliver this Safer Streets project.”

You can find out more about the Safer Streets Fund at www.gov.uk/government/news/police-local-authoritiesgiven-extra-235m-for-safer-streets