Calls for action over women’s safety at community meeting

WOMEN at a public meeting have called for urgent action to tackle misogyny and improve safety in Stroud. 

The meeting comes three weeks after a woman was raped on the B4066 Dudbridge Road near Sainsburys at midday on Friday, 22 July – but also addressed the recent Tetbury incident where a woman was chased and the rape at Stroud cemetery. 

Almost 200 people attended the meeting at the Stroud subscription rooms and concerns were raised by attendees about women’s safety, misogyny in police and online on social media. 

Members of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Chris Nelson the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, a representative from Stroud District Council and MP Siobhan Baillie all spoke at the meeting.

Ms Baille spoke about the importance of changing behaviour and also updating legislation like upskirting. 

She said: “This has completely rocked our communities. I understand it is about changing behaviour. 

“It’s right that women are absolutely fed up with what’s going on. These violent crimes are going up around the country.

“One incident is too many and we all know these are life changing.”

READ MORE: Recap: Community meeting held after women raped

At the meeting Stroud police said that both rapes in Stroud cemetery and in Dudbridge by Sainsburys were stranger attacks and both attackers were not known to either victim.

Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said he wants to focus more on the perpetrators rather than victim blaming. 

Mr Nelson said: “My main job is to listen and turn up at events like these and listen to your needs. And turn those needs into priorities for the police constable.”

“Often perpetrators don’t understand that misogy and sexual assualt isn’t normal and they need bystander training. 

“This is a cultural issue, it’s a deep seated culture issue. 

Inspector Paul Cruise from Stroud Neighbourhood Police said he didn’t want any ‘no go areas’ in Stroud or Dursley. 

One attendee also spoke about the dangers of walking home from work in the dark because lights haven’t been replaced and said she spends every winter holding her torch feeling scared. 

She said some of the lights by the Dudbridge tunnel are still broken and haven’t been replaced even after the rape near Sainsburys. 

Mike Hammond from Stroud District Council said: “It’s all our responsibility. It’ll take away what you said and take your concerns forward to the county council.”

Another attendee has said they have plans to paint the Dudbridge tunnel and replace the lights themselves.

After the meeting, members of the public asked for another meeting to be held in six months time and Stroud Police confirmed that this would take place. 

Nikki Owen another attendee also said she has plans for a peaceful protest to take place at 11am Saturday, 17th September meeting outside Lock Keepers Cafe to empower women and do something about the issue. 

She said: “Enough is enough. It’s crazy and ridiculous that we can’t feel safe outside.” 

The meeting finished at 9.18pm after concerns about people getting home safely in the dark.

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