In 2022, Oxford received an additional £426,000 in Safer Streets funding to put measures in place across the city to improve safety and help prevent violence against women and girls travelling in and out of Oxford at night.
The project brings together the Police & Crime Commissioner, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police, Oxford University Security Services, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Bus Company, and Students’ Unions.
The project has created a Nightsafe Network and Safe Places scheme that brings together partners and organisations in the night-time economy, including the police, CCTV operators, street pastors, and licensed premises. The network will be given up-to-date information on CCTV footage, as well as training on how to respond to incidents and will provide reassurance for women and girls.
Other measures include outdoor phone charging stations, lighting upgrades, and the removal of some shrubbery and street furniture that could reduce visibility.
Oxford City Angels launched
Additionally Oxford recently saw the launch of the City Angels project. Oxford City Angels (OCA) is a voluntary-run female-focused organisation working with Thames Valley Police, Oxford City Council and Nightsafe Oxford during the night-time economy. OCA supports the safety of women and girls at night, through patrols and engagement, on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings between 10pm and 4am. OCA works closely with police officers, street pastors, clubs and the CCTV control room to help keep people safe.
Voi to provide electric scooters
Over the next 12 months, Voi is providing the free use of four Long Term Rental (LTR) e-scooters from its trial scheme. City Angels volunteers will be able to use the e-scooters to swiftly provide help to anyone who may be vulnerable. They will be able to cover a large area quickly and economically.
Currently OCA are out once a month, sometimes two, depending on volunteer availability. The OCA’s long term goal is to have a team out supporting the night time economy every weekend. A recruitment campaign will take place in the New Year where individuals interested in joining the OCA can come and meet the team to find out more. Information about becoming a volunteer can also be found at their website: www.oxfordcityangel.org.uk
The Oxford Safer Streets project has also set up Common Place – an online public engagement platform inviting everyone who lives, works, studies, or socialises in Oxford to tell us where and why they are feeling unsafe. This feedback will allow Oxford City Council and its partners to hear directly from the public about areas of concern and look at measures to improve a location to make it safer for everyone. The Common Place website is not monitored in real-time, and should not be used to report crime, but instead aims to empower the public to share their concerns and offer suggestions to improve public spaces in Oxford
Enhanced CCTV coverage
The Oxford Safer Streets funding also means 24 new CCTV cameras have been introduced as part of a multi-agency programme to make the streets safer.
The new cameras are monitored in real time allowing operators to communicate with police officers, door staff and store security. They cover the main areas of Oxford city centre and include new sites in New Road and Frideswide Square that previously had no CCTV coverage.
Additionally the City Council has funded an upgrade to the CCTV suite in St Aldates Police Station to keep CCTV technology up-to-date. The CCTV suite is operated and managed in partnership with Thames Valley Police.
“This funding offers a very welcome enhancement to the existing security for those enjoying the night life that Oxford has to offer. I particularly want to welcome those new to the city, our new students, and reassure them that we, and the partners we work closely with, take their safety seriously.
“Not only will these measures protect women and girls, but they will have benefits for all those who are enjoying a night out in the city or on their way home."
Councillor Diko Walcott, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities
"We are extremely proud to be able to deliver a voluntary organisation with a focus on supporting the safety and security of women during a night out. Our team of trained volunteers do a remarkable job in safeguarding those in need and assisting vulnerable individuals return home.
"On average our volunteers respond to between 10-15 incidents a night and offer a range of supportive interventions. We are passionate in making a difference to the safety of women during a night out and we will continue to proactively patrol the city and support our partners in preventing violence against women on a Saturday night."
Dan Courtney, Oxford City Angels Director
“The measures put in place by Safer Streets funding provide additional support and assistance to members of the public who are enjoying a night out in Oxford. By working together, we can continue to provide reassurance to our communities that Oxford is a safe area and those seeking to commit sexual offences will not be tolerated.”
Superintendent Bruce Riddell, local policing area commander for Oxford
“As president of the students union, I am pleased to see an initiative that helps keep people in the city safe at night, especially focused on women's safety in our night time economy.”
Saskia Clubb, President of Brookes Student Union
OCA are currently looking for more volunteers. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org