A veritable army of women now works in the night-time economy of London. The numbers are growing every year – it is estimated that some 725,000 people work at night in London. The figures do not include those who are out socializing or simply enjoying the city.
Recent statistics show that the night-time economy is worth £26 billion per year. The totals are made up of bar or nightclub staff, care workers, cleaners, nurses, police officers and other emergency services, tube staff, all night supermarkets or indeed sex workers and shift workers amongst many others.
A woman may be in London to work, as a tourist, partying with friends, going to the theatre or just enjoying what the modern cosmopolitan city has to offer. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is keen for everyone, especially women to be safe and feel safe in the capital.
London’s culture is now at risk, here are a few rather stark facts: (Source MoL factsheet)
- 50% of clubs have closed in the last 10 years.
- 40% of grassroots music venues have closed in the last 10 years.
- 58% of LGBT venues have closed since 2006.
- The number of pubs has fallen by a quarter since 2001.
- Recent terror attacks have targeted the night-time culture and economy.
It is unacceptable that women are vulnerable not only when travelling but also in the workplace. This can range from unwanted comments, touching to rape. In an attempt to address this issue, a pilot campaign organised by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has established a call line system called ‘Ask for Angela’. A woman who is either working or out enjoying herself can discretely ask a bar/club staff member, or a security officer, for ‘Angela’. The bar staff having been trained to deal with this by looking after the women and make an appropriate call for help if necessary. The objective of this pilot is to reduce sexual violence and vulnerability. For more information see www.met.police.uk/AskforAngela
The Mayor wishes to make all women in London at night feel safer – this is a challenging ambition. In order to address the challenge, he is considering the first ‘Charter for Women’ who find themselves in difficult or dangerous situations. Recently, a working group conducted a ‘deep dive’ into what a dangerous situation actually means:
- What is abuse, is it unwanted and unacceptable touching or comments?
- The majority of cases go unreported, with most women wishing to escape and get to the safety of home. If a woman were subjected to abuse whom would she tell – the police, her family, and her employer?
- If she were to tell, what would happen to the alleged perpetrator? Would she even be believed?
- If the perpetrator were arrested, would the case ever reach court, if so, would the woman be required to give evidence, and relive the traumatic experience?
For anyone, especially a woman, not to feel safe in London, whatever she is doing, is simply unacceptable. The authorities are quite rightly trying to take the initiative, but this will take some time to produce a real effect on the ground.
If you would like advice about keeping your workforce safe, now, especially women, contact nStratagem who can offer you immediate advice.
Protect your staff when they travel.
I look forward to your thoughts and comments on this article.
Gilly Crichton is an Associate of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping organizations and leaders through these issues and challenges. Contact us for a discreet discussion on your crisis preparedness and resilience strategies.
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