‘We do not feel safe’ on streets

‘We do not feel safe’ on streets

Women in St Austell say they ‘do not feel safe’ when out on their own in the town.

17th March 2021

By Natasha Swift

Women in St Austell say they ‘do not feel safe’ when out on their own in the town.

Following the death of Sarah Everard in London, the Voice asked readers if they felt the streets of St Austell were safe for women.

The 33-year-old marketing executive disappeared when walking home to Brixton from Clapham in south London on March 3.

Her body was found in woodland in Kent last week.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has appeared in court charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah.

The incident sparked national outcry about the safety of women, who took to social media to share their experiences of feeling unsafe and the lengths they go to stay out of danger.

Sarah’s tragic death has led to calls for more to be done to make women feel safer in the UK.

Virtually all young women in the UK have been subjected to sexual harassment, according to a survey from UN Women UK.

The survey suggests that 97 per cent of women aged 18-24 in the UK have been sexually harassed, while 80 per cent of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.

“This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘this is too difficult a problem for us to solve’ – it needs addressing now,” said Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK.

Women told the Voice they had been “harassed” and “scared” on the streets of St Austell when asked if they felt safe.

More than 100 people - both male and female - responded, recounting experiences of feeling unsafe and threatened on the streets.

Their experiences range from threats of rape to men yelling things in the street or following as they walk home, shouting out to them.

Recounting one terrifying experience in the town centre, Charlotte Obie said: “I was harassed by three men at the bottom of the stairs by Santander when the town was empty and it really freaked me out.

“When I came back they starting shouting at me so I went the long way round to get back to the car constantly checking over my shoulder that they weren't following me. “

Zoe Wilkins said she avoided the town now, adding: “It's not safe to walk in the day, especially with small children with me. I waited in the car for my partner to collect from Argos and locked my doors as I didn’t feel safe.”

Ems Jane Doran told the Voice: “No they are not safe. My daughter and her friend in their mid-twenties were walking back from Charlestown about 10pm last summer.

“They walked past a few lads. One got his bits out and made disgusting remarks with his mates making rape threats.”

Sue Green said: “I work in town and do not feel safe walking through the town and heading back to my car after work. There’s a lot of antisocial behaviour and it’s definitely it’s getting worse.”

Jayne Crouch told us: “I feel very uneasy during the day, so avoid going there. I would never go there alone at night, even though I am 60-plus. Had too many scary experiences in my younger years.”

Deborah Hopkins said: “The place is not relevant - it is the behaviour of people that causes the problem. 92 per cent of rapes are carried out by men known to the woman. While conviction rates for rape remain at approximately 2 per cent, most rapists will not serve any time and most women and men who are raped will not report it. While we keep voting for our police force to be cut, and our justice systems to be cut, safety will continue to be a problem.”

Brian Richards said: “I never let my daughter go anywhere without me. In all honesty it's not a safe place for male or female. It works both ways.”

Anne Double, who is the Conservative candidate standing for the Gover ward in the Cornwall Council elections, said: “The sad recent events have brought the matter of women feeling safe into the spotlight and I am pleased that the government is taking action to address the concerns many have.

“But we also need Cornwall Council to do their bit locally to address the concerns of local residents about the level of antisocial behaviour we see in our town. Everyone has the right to feel safe during the day and night, wherever you live.

“However I know, from experience that I have walked back from the London office to our flat, late at night and felt very safe. However, I would, currently, not walk out after dark around the streets of St Austell. If I did need to go out, to walk the dog, especially when it is dark, I would stick to well lit areas and always tell someone. The “share my location” on Whatsapp is also a very good and useful tool to use.”

Sara Dudart told the Voice: “St Austell is too dangerous now. Too many junkies, drug users, dealers, addicts and those who exhibit anti-social and threatening behaviour. It’s not a safe place. It should be, we have two of the county’s biggest visitor attractions close by to this town.”

Di Knight said: “I hate going into St Austell. Don’t feel safe day or night. Hate the vibe. Only go in when I absolutely have to.”

Kairen Varker: “I used to work in a shop and left because I never felt safe let alone walking around the town.”

Patrick Vander Talen said: “They aren’t safe for anyone”, while Mezz Simpson told the Voice: “I work in the town centre and walking to and from my car is scary. The amount of drug addicts around are very scary in the town. I’ve been followed, shouted at, asked for “bus money” all sorts. Horrible town.”

Mollie Mcnelly: “I work in the town and always felt vulnerable leaving work in the winter when it was darker, do not feel safe at all.”

Daniel Lawson told the Voice: “What got me at first when I started going out in the evening for a meal or drink was the fact there's no taxi rank. If you're in town and want to get home dry/safely /in good time you can't do that. You have to pre-book and potentially cut short a good night.”

Flick Owen said: “There is a lot of work to do to get St Austell to be a place we feel safe in at night. We do have more than our share of anti social behaviour. That really contributes to people feeling unsafe.”

Cara Bastow explained: “With all recent assaults and rapes, not at all. I no longer walk the dog at night and carry a very heavy something should anyone come near with wrong ideas.

“Also believe that the graveyard up by the train station should have far better lighting after last years attacks.”

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