Medway is the second area in the UK to address sexual harassment and discrimination in the night-time economy as part of its licensing policy.
Earlier this year Medway Council approved a recommendation to support Kent Union’s (the Students’ Union for the University of Kent) Zero Tolerance campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of and tackle sexual harassment in night time premises such as bars and clubs. The first council to launch the campaign is Canterbury.
According to national figures released by Drink Aware, 54 per cent of women aged between 18 and 24 have experienced unwelcome physical attention on a night out.
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has funded Kent Union to collaborate with the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and Kent Police, as well as local councils and businesses to deliver training and awareness of the issue across venues in Medway and Canterbury. The training helps empower license holders to tackle the culture of sexual harassment in the night-time economy. Medway’s launch event was held on Wednesday, 13 June at The Student Hub on the Universities at Medway campus in Chatham. As part of the event, license holders from across Medway were invited to attend a training course to learn about the issue and what they can do to help.
Ruth Wilkinson, Kent Union President, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Medway Council has passed this licensing change, this is such an important statement about their determination to tackle sexual harassment in the night-time economy. I can’t wait to work with them and Canterbury City Council as well as license holders to create a future where our students and the public can enjoy nights out knowing that harassment or assault won’t be tolerated!”
Cllr Adrian Gulvin, Chair of the Medway Community Safety Partnership, said: “We fully support the Zero Tolerance campaign and we are proud to be the second council across the UK to reflect our licensing policy to help raise awareness of such an important issue. Medway is now a centre of educational excellence, with four universities and two colleges offering a range of courses for 12,000 students. We are proud of our students and would be pleased for them to stay in Medway after finishing their studies. The area has a lot to offer our young people, including high job prospects. It’s also important everyone feels comfortable on a night out, whatever their gender or sexual orientation and we will continue to work with partner agencies to help raise awareness of the Zero Tolerance campaign.”
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said: "For me, funding the Zero Tolerance project from my Safer in Kent Fund was a no brainer. No-one should think that being sexually assaulted on a night out is normal or acceptable. It absolutely is not. I was in Canterbury on Friday to hear how the project has been making a real difference there and it is great to see licensees at venues in Medway adopting the training too so their staff also know how and when to intervene to protect victims. I encourage other councils across the country to follow Canterbury and Medway’s lead by making this a requirement. We all have a responsibility to look out for each other and ensure Kent is a safe place to live, work, visit and study."
If you’re interested in getting involved, especially if you’re a license holder, or to find out more information, please click here.