A new initiative to help women and girls feel safer when visiting Rochester High Street has been launched.

Several local businesses have joined up to the ‘Safe Spaces’ scheme which ensures those shops offer people a place of safety if they are feeling unwell, lost, confused or have been a victim of crime.

By displaying window stickers people will know that the business is part of the scheme, and that they can go into the shop to ask for help if they need it when in the town. The staff can then alert the emergency services if required.

The scheme has been launched by the Medway Community Safety Partnership and the Medway Taskforce after more than £190,000 of funding was secured in October 2021.

The money was given by the Home Office Safer Streets Fund following a successful application by Matthew Scott, the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.

This money has been allocated for projects running across Medway with a specific focus on Rochester and Chatham, to help keep the towns safe, especially for women and girls.

As part of the wider project personal safety items have been distributed to community groups and residents across Medway.

Clothing and equipment, such as foil blankets, flip flops and bottles of water have also been given to the Medway Street Pastors to help support them when they assist people in the town at night-time.

Additional radios have also been distributed to businesses allowing for greater communication.

District Commander for Medway, Chief Inspector Shona Lowndes said: ‘This funding has allowed Kent Police and its partners to put in place additional measures and schemes to help further safeguard residents and visitors while in our towns.

‘Our officers work tirelessly in our communities, including providing regular patrols within the night-time economy to ensure a continued and visible presence. Our streets remain a vibrant and safe place to visit and this new initiative will only seek to support and strengthen this.

‘The Safe Spaces Scheme ensures that anyone who needs help knows they can walk into a local business where they can feel secure and confident that they are safe and will be assisted appropriately when needed.’

This is the third round of funding which has also seen money spent on a number of different initiatives, including the cutting back of overgrown vegetation to allow for improved natural lighting and increased visibility, the removal of rubbish and graffiti and community litter picking in parks.

The Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said: ‘I’m proud we secured funding for this wonderful Safer Streets Project.

‘Not only are we making people feel safer in their town centres with extra patrols, but with the help of local businesses we’re able to provide places people can go should they feel vulnerable. It really is a community partnership.’

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Resources, Cllr Adrian Gulvin said: ‘I am pleased that the Safe Spaces initiative has been launched in Rochester.

‘Medway is a safe place to live, work, visit and learn and we are working closely with partner agencies, including Kent Police, to help people feel even safer when enjoying everything Rochester has to offer. Thank you to the Medway businesses which have already signed up to this new safety initiative.’

For more information about how Kent Police is tackling Violence Against Women and Girls and safety advice visit here.

By Ed

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