Rape and sexual assaults on the rise in Leeds as new safety scheme is announced

Bar and door staff in Leeds are set to be trained up in a special scheme that aims to help women who feel vulnerable or harassed while on a night out.

By Emma Ryan
Monday, 30th September 2019, 6:00 pm
There are plans to make Leeds a safer place at night for women.
There are plans to make Leeds a safer place at night for women.

Leeds is set to adopt the #AskAngela scheme which is a code phrase women can use to let bar and door staff know they need help.

It was implemented by Lincolnshire County Council back in 2016 and the slogan quickly went viral with pubs, clubs and bars up and down the country adopting the policy.

It came about as part of that authority's #NoMore campaign to promote a culture change in relation to sexual violence and abuse and empower victims to make a decision on whether to report incidents.

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The success is what has prompted Leeds to follow suit.

If women are on a date that is going badly, getting unwanted attention from men or feel vulnerable they can go to a member of staff and 'ask for Angela'. They will know what the complainant means and help them out of the situation, such as by calling a taxi, without fuss.

Coun Al Gouthwaite explained the project to a panel meeting of the Women Lives Leeds, Women's and Girls Hub meeting as part of a wider discussion about the safety of women at night in Leeds.

She said: "We have put in place various things and one is training for bar and security staff to recognise and deal appropriately with incidents of sexual harassment and abuse. This has been instigated in other places, notably Lincoln which has Ask Angela.

"There have been a lot of reports of women who have made complaints or reported something and it has been brushed under the carpet or they have been told 'he has left the bar now, be quiet'.

"This is totally unsatisfactory. We are working towards a violence against women strategy that will go across the whole council."

It was also stated at the meeting that reports of rape and sexual assault were going up, which was deemed to be a "positive" thing.

Coun Gouthwaite added: "Reports of rape and sexual assault are going up and I think that is a positive thing. Before it was only rape (that was recorded) and that was if somebody calls to report it. Now it is reports of harassment and these are all the tip of the iceberg."

Also reported at the meeting was that Leeds is to become the UK's first women friendly city after getting Comic Relief funding. Read more - https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/people/leeds-to-be-the-uk-s-first-women-friendly-city-1-10023665