'Sexual harassment needs to be stopped' - Charity launches Ipswich campaign

Crimestoppers has launched a new campaign across Ipswich

Crimestoppers has launched a new campaign across Ipswich to highlight ‘signs to spot’ to help safeguard women and young girls from unwanted sexual harassment. - Credit: Crimestoppers

A new campaign across Ipswich will highlight how to spot unwanted sexual harassment of women and young girls.

The eight-week Crimestoppers campaign, coordinated by Ipswich Borough Council with the Home Office Safer Streets Funding, will highlight what public sexual harassment is. 

Philip Breckon, Crimestoppers regional manager, said: “Sexual harassment can take many forms and all of them need to be stopped.

"Our charity is encouraging people not to be bystanders, but to speak up and make a difference if they know of somebody publicly harassing people.

“While not all acts of sexual harassment are technically a crime, they’re all unacceptable and sadly, when behaviour is left unchecked, it could escalate into perpetrators committing more extreme and dangerous types of sexual crime."

The campaign is thanks to Ipswich Borough Council securing £124,391 to make Norwich Road and surrounding areas safer.

On average, there are 16 violent or sexual offences recorded each month on this road, according to Ipswich Borough Council.

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But Laura Polley, from Reclaim the Streets Ipswich, questioned this focus on one Ipswich road as she says there is a lot of sexual harassment elsewhere in the town.  

The town centre and the Waterfront areas saw around 100 violent or sexual offences occur in a month, according to police.uk crime map data. 

Ms Polley said: "It's not confined to one area of Ipswich. They are justifying Norwich Road investment. 

"It's quite run down and dilapidated but it has not had a particular issue with women's safety. First we all need to be targeting men with this campaign. 

"It's not up to women to change the level of safety they feel. It needs to be giving men awareness and education on what is acceptable and giving women the confidence to call people out and that is where it starts."

Organiser, Laura Polley, of Suffolks Reclaim The Streets event

Laura Polley, organizer of Suffolks Reclaim the Streets movement said: "Why does this man think its OK to chase a woman down the waterfront — there's absolutely no circumstances where that is OK." - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: "[IBC] fully supports this campaign and works closely with other partners, such as Crimestoppers and the police to reduce these crimes.

"We will be announcing further details of other initiatives to combat such criminality in the next few days."

Deputy chief constable Rachel Kearton said: "This is a wide-ranging societal issue that we must tackle together to make women and girls feel safer throughout Suffolk.”

Ms Kearton also welcomed a new strategy outlining how Suffolk will address Violence Against Women and Girls that was published on Monday. 

Crimestoppers said public sexual harassment can include:

  • Flashing/exposure - for example, exposing genitals in a public place.
  • Sexual comments/gestures - behaviour such as 'catcalling' and 'wolf-whistling', sexual propositions (verbal and non-verbal), and/or making comments about someone’s body.
  • Stalking - classed as a pattern of fixated or obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the person targeted.
  • 'Cyberflashing' - for example, sending or showing sexual images and/or website content/links, commonly transmitted via AirDrop or Bluetooth.
  • Intrusive/persistent questioning - when you’ve made it clear you don’t want to talk to someone - e.g. “Have you got a boyfriend/girlfriend?”, “Where are you going?”
  • Deliberately touching or rubbing against the clothed body of another person in a crowd eg on a busy train or bus as a means of obtaining gratification.
  • Watching explicit content in public areas - e.g. pornography, including in some cases trying to show this content to others nearby.
  • 'Upskirting' - placing a camera beneath a person’s clothing to take a voyeuristic photograph without their permission.
  • Standing too close when there is no need to/invading personal space - e.g. somebody standing/sitting unusually close to you on a bus or train service that isn’t very busy.
  • Physical and/or sexual assault, rape - e.g. non-consensual touching, grabbing, groping, stroking, kissing etc. Sexual intercourse of any kind without consent.

If you are a victim of public sexual harassment, you can get support on 0808 1689 111 or by visiting victimsupport.org.uk.

If you are aware of a perpetrator of sexual violence against anybody in a public place, you can report 100% anonymously at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone number 0800 555 111 at any time.

In an emergency always call 999.