Shops encouraged to become 'safe havens' to make Islington safer for women

Islington Assembly Hall was lit in orange

Islington Assembly Hall was lit in orange to mark the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - Credit: Islington Council

Encouraging all shop front businesses to become designated ‘Safe Havens’ is one idea authorities are pursuing to keep women safe in Islington. 

It is part of the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy that Islington Council has this week unveiled for 2021-26. 

The strategy is more to cite the direction of the focus and underline its importance, and individual policies could be decided based upon these guidelines for the next five years.

Cllr Sue Lukes, executive member for community safety, said the framework was due for review but the timing has coincided with female safety being in the media - with the high profile murders of Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.  

“We work hard to make Islington a place worthy of all the wonderful women and girls who live here,” said Cllr Lukes. 

“We have put together an innovative and comprehensive strategy, based on effective partnerships, and are thrilled to be launching it.”

Islington Police, Solace Women’s Aid, and Respect were both part of the council’s discussions that involved an engagement push to find out where residents feel unsafe.

Of the Safe Havens, Cllr Lukes said she wanted shops and businesses to put a sticker in their window that would show they could be entered for an individual in danger to seek help - or even for someone lost and confused to have respite. 

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“It’s about people feeling safer in the borough,” she said, “Everywhere that might be open should offer themselves to be a Safe Haven.”

The authorities are set to continue their domestic abuse daily safeguarding meetings, which sees the council take calls from women at risk and assess what action to take. 

Since these meetings were implemented in January, the council has seen a 10 per cent decrease in repeat referrals. 

In 2021, however, the overall figure for service users supported has risen to 1,526 - a 56 per cent increase from the year before - a figure thought to be partly exacerbated by the pandemic.  

For the full report, visit: www.islington.gov.uk/community-safety/violence-against-woman-and-girls

Linked to this is the council’s Safer Spaces project, set up to identify hotspots where women are often feeling unsafe.

The project runs to the end of December and can be found by visiting: www.islington.gov.uk/community-safety/have-your-say-on-safer-spaces