Herts uni launches new safer streets initiative

University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield

University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield - Credit: Archant

The University of Hertfordshire is partnering with police and County Hall to make the Hatfield area safe for all students, staff and the local community.  

The university is working alongside the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Hertfordshire, and Hertfordshire County Council, to improve safety in the area around its campus.  

In 2021, this partnership received £548,176 in Home Office funding in association with the Government's Safer Streets programme to implement multiple plans in the Hatfield area. 

The main focus of this initiative is to keep women and girls of Hertfordshire safe and prevent violence against them. 

The funding received will enable the university to buy personal safety alarms and provide planned programmes of active bystander training, which will prepare staff and students with the skills and confidence required to tackle inappropriate behaviour. 

One of the new safety measures include vouchers for the Hollie Guard Extra personal safety app, which will be made accessible for both staff and students.

The app will provide a round-the-clock dedicated emergency response service, location monitoring, emergency contact notifications, sending audio and video evidence directly to their phones, and built-in deterrents, which will assure the users the ease and confidence of a safe journey no matter where they go. 

Second year student Ashleigh Wevell, approved: “I think it's good that they are trying to tackle the issue. I did not even realise that this was a huge issue at university, so I feel they should talk about it more so we are more aware, or people might not feel the need to take these extra measures.” 

Rose Ganegoda, a final year law student, said she also likes the idea of of the initiative, after being in situations where she has felt unsafe.

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"Personally, I think this is a really good idea to promote the safety of women and children in the area because there are so many instances where people, more specifically women, feel threatened about their safety...

"I have been in this situation many times since I came here. So, if this funding is able to create an environment where we feel safe, I think that would be really appreciated by many, including myself." 

This week the university will also be running a Wellbeing and Safety Week for students, offering multiple events and resources to help them feel safe and secure during their time at university. 

The Dean of Students at the University, Geraldine Ward, said: “Coming to university is an exciting and enjoyable experience, but we understand students and their families have concerns about safety – especially for those moving away from home for the first time.  

“I’m proud that the university is part of the Safer Streets program in Hatfield, working closely with our colleagues at the PCC and Hertfordshire County Council to reduce risks, and give students confidence and support as they travel around the local area. Our students make up a significant part of the community in Hatfield, so it was important that their concerns were included in this project."

Funding will allow university to provide extra safety

The funding received will enable the University to buy personal safety alarms for member of its community and provide planned programmes of active bystander training. - Credit: Pixabay

Money secured by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has secured will also go towards the refurbishment of five underpasses in Hatfield to address street harassment, stalking, sexual assault, and improvements with new lighting, cutting down overgrown vegetation, mirrors and the removal of graffiti, plus secondary crimes including ASB, verbal abuse, robbery and drug dealing. 

Mr Lloyd said: “The safety of women and girls is a real concern to many in Hertfordshire and it is one that I am determined to address. I want to ensure that real changes are made so they can walk our streets and public spaces without fear. 

“This scheme will directly improve the safety of thousands of residents in Hatfield, and we will also use the lessons learned from it to see how they can be applied to other parts of the county."

On a national level, the Government has granted £25 million to PCCs throughout England and Wales in order to address street safety and limit the violence against women and girls in public areas. Since its initiation, £70 million has been allotted to the Safer Streets Fund across the local areas of England.  

Usually, crimes against women such as sexual harassment, disproportionately affect women, so this new investment aims to tackle the issue, and make the streets safer. 

To find out about the University of Hertfordshire's safety plans, see herts.ac.uk/life/support-and-wellbeing/student-safety