Safer Streets – Making Ashford town centre safer

Published: 22/04/2022
Person using a mobile phone at night with blurred streetlights in background

In Autumn 2021, following a successful bid to the Home Office, Ashford was awarded almost £550,000 to make the streets of its town centre safer, particularly for women and girls.

Officers from Ashford Borough Council and Kent Police have been working to implement the varying aspects of the project and on Friday 29 April Matthew Scott, Kent Police Crime Commissioner and Damian Green MP will be visiting Ashford to see the work undertaken.

The Community Safety Partnership, including the Police and representatives from the Violence Reduction Unit, along with Street Pastors will be present within the town centre from 8pm to 11pm to offer advice to night time visitors and hand out safety equipment.

Here is what has been delivered through the project;

  • The creation of the Ashford Streetwise app (launching 29 April)
  • Active Bystander training has been delivered to over 180 front line staff from businesses operating in the town centre
  • A network of Safe Spaces - premises people can go to if they need help and support when out in the town centre (look out for the window sticker or find them on the app)
  • Additional Ashford Partnership Against Crime radios purchased to increase the number of guardians in the town centre (and support Safe Spaces)
  • 20 school presentations, emphasising key safety messages and the importance of respect and healthy relationships
  • CCTV cameras have been installed in Edinburgh Road Car park and at Elwick Place, eight public space cameras have been installed in the town centre as well as wall-mounted mirrors to improve sightlines
  • Improvements to the Memorial Gardens to remove undergrowth and replace the perimeter fence
  • Purchase and distribution of:
    • Smarttag to licensed premises
    • Personal safety equipment
    • Pressure washer and litter picking equipment

Streetwise logoAshford Streetwise App (launches 29 April)

Ashford Streetwise is an innovative, new Smartphone App which identifies the areas and routes in and around the town centre with the best safety provision, such as monitored CCTV, good street lighting, high footfall, Safe Spaces and high presence of guardians. The app also offers safety features such as SOS, alerts and defibrillator and emergency trauma pack locations.

Download the app for free via your Apple or Android app store from 29 April.

 

Safe Space logo

Safe Spaces

A Safe Space is a designated premises open to any member of the public in need of immediate help and support, by means of assistance in contacting an appropriate carer, friend, family member or emergency services.

So if you feel unsafe and want to wait for a lift, feel unwell and require help, feel uncomfortable with a group of individuals, have been the victim of crime or are in any situation where you feel you need assistance, you can enter any premises displaying the ‘Safe Space’ logo and ask for help without fear of embarrassment.

You can also find the location of your nearest ‘Safe Space’ through the Ashford Streetwise app.

Cllr Peter Feacey, portfolio holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing said: “Ashford has always been a safe place to live, work and play and the wide range of actions taken through this comprehensive project will reinforce the experiences of those who visit and enjoy our town centre.”

Detective Inspector Simon Johnson, of Ashford Community Safety Unit, said: "The Streetwise app and the Safe Spaces Scheme will help keep people secure in the town centre and are the latest in a range of initiatives we are pursuing with our partners to tackle violence against women and girls and make our public spaces safer.

"The Streetwise app will give people living, working and visiting the town the best possible information to keep themselves safe, and the Safe Spaces Scheme ensures that anyone who needs help can seek safety in a local business.

"These schemes come on top of other measures we have already been able to bring in, such as active bystander training, new radios for businesses, a Smart Tag initiative and improved CCTV.

"We will continue to work with partner agencies to identify and implement any measures which protect our communities and help keep Ashford the safe and happy place it continues to be."