Written by Emma Kay, Founder at Walksafe
The nights are darker and our streets more dangerous – what can we do to help?
Increased darkness, combined with miserable weather means I end up walking with my head down or under an umbrella far more at the moment. This is far from ideal when you’re trying to be aware of your surroundings, especially on days like today when its pouring and I’m laden with bags and screaming kids. As women it’s ingrained in us to be hyper vigilant as otherwise society deems it to be ‘our fault’. Did she have her AirPods in? Was she walking down well-lit streets? Did she share her journey? Did she have her SOS button ready? The list is never ending and it’s exhausting.
Is this still what we have to do in 2022? I ask myself on a daily basis and sadly the answer is always a resounding yes. Sometimes I think I’ll chance it, it won’t be me that gets targeted. Then I think of all the women that thought the same thing before me, Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Zara Aleena. So then I decide I won’t risk it, I’ll pull an AirPod out and I’ll quickly set up a HomeSafe on my WalkSafe app. It’s only getting more pressing, more urgent, more dangerous. Many of us are walking home more due to the cost of living crisis (our research found 1 in 5 are altering their behaviour in this way a month ago, likely higher now) and are unable to afford sky high train tickets or a taxi home. With Christmas approaching we are aware of the financial impact of these safer options and are choosing to go out on the streets more.
With the recent clock change and winter nights drawing in, the dangers are more prevalent. Cases of violent crimes on the UK’s streets have risen over the past four years. These include sexual offences and theft against the person. This November and December alone, over 400,000 violent and sexual offences are forecast on our streets (comparison Apr/May and Oct/Nov 2018-21; Open Source Data). This is nearly 16,000 more than were recorded in the lighter months of April and May 2022. I’ve had enough of worrying about my safety when I leave the house, enough of worrying about my friends getting home from our night out, or reading about another tragic girl’s life being taken due to male violence. Now is the time for the Government to spend more on making our streets safer for everyone after dark.
One simple solution is to increase the amount of street lighting. At WalkSafe we are a personal safety company, but we are also a data company. Our users are able to post where they are concerned about a lack of streetlights. This helps keep our community safer and gives us the insight to feedback to local councils. We are trying to improve safety outcomes for all through this small but actionable solution, one that costs nothing but could have a huge ripple effect if rolled out effectively. We would love to see our wider community think about their neighbours and prevent others from becoming targets of crime. Enough is enough, together we are stronger.