As part of a national initiative to highlight the role bystanders play in the prevention and support of street harassment, today Neighbourhood Watch will launch their ‘Are you okay?’ campaign.
The charity will encourage bystanders to intervene when witnessing crime and harmful behaviours, when it is safe for them to do so, by asking the victim ‘Are you okay?’ Crimes of this nature, such as public sexual harassment and hate crime, are significantly under reported by victims. Therefore, it is hoped that this initiative will prevent incidents escalating further, often seen when street harassment is not challenged.
Commissioner Joy Allen said “Unfortunately crimes like these seem to be deeply ingrained in our culture. They’re so common that we often see them in areas such as in our parks and on our high streets and public transport networks and will turn a blind eye.
“It’s time that these incidents no longer go unnoticed. This is a brilliant initiative that if used correctly can go a long way to achieving my vision of safer people across our area. It is all of our responsibilities to ensure that we look after each other on our streets. I would urge anyone that feels like they have witnessed or have been a victim of harassment or hate crime to report it, as it really is the only way we’re going to be able to get a true handle on this and stomp it out in our community.”
Neighbourhood Watch estimated that nationally over one third of those that had experienced crime in the last twelve months had been harassed, threatened or verbally abused in the street. These incidents are unfortunately not isolated and will be detrimental to victims’ mental wellbeing.
The campaign attempts to challenge the ‘bystander effect’, which Neighbourhood Watch described as when the presence of others discourages individuals from intervening in crimes like these. They explain that the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is for any one of them to initiate help for the person in distress.
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said “If you witness someone being harassed on the street, whether they are being intimidated, shouted at, insulted, honked at, up-skirted, or are having offensive gestures or comments made towards them – when it is safe for you to do so, ask them if they are okay. This lets them know that you stand by them, empowers the victim to report and sends a message of intolerance towards the crime. In this way we can start to turn that cultureof acceptance around.
“This simple action is a delay technique and part of the 5Ds of bystander intervention, developed by Right to Be. We can all do this simple yet powerful act. By asking, ‘Are you okay?’ we become active bystanders and send the message that harassment is not okay.”
If you need to report an active incident please call 999, to report any other incident call 101.
You can also report to Crimestoppers anonymously on 919 683 1200.
To report hate crimes online please visit Stop Homophobic, Transphobic,Racial, Religious & Disability Hate Crime - True Vision (report-it.org.uk)
To find out more about the campaign and the 5D’s of bystander intervention visit Neighbourhood Watch website: Home | Neighbourhood Watch | National network | Local Watch areas | Community crime prevention groups(ourwatch.org.uk)
If you want to know more about what is being done across Durham and Darlington to make your communities safer, click here: SaferPeople | Durham Police & Crime Commissioner (durham-pcc.gov.uk).
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