Rape charity says more could be done to keep Northampton night-time economy safe for clubbers

Northamptonshire Rape Crisis is supporting 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds.
Northamptonshire Rape Crisis is supporting 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds.

The Reclaim the Night march stepped out in Northampton town centre to raise awareness of gender-based violence, as part of 16 days of national of activism.

The march, which is now in it's fifth year, took to the streets at 11pm on Friday, November 24, starting from Barry Road, before finishing with a speech at All Saints Church.

Talking about the purpose of the Reclaim the Night march, Dawn Thomas, CEO of Northamptonshire Rape Crisis said: "I guess it's to highlight the fact that we as an organisation exist and we have been in the county for 31 years. Recently there have been lots of stories in the media, on telly, in dramas around sexual violence and I guess that some of the things that we are seeing as a consequence of that is an increase in clients accessing our service.

"We want to be able to talk about sexual violence without anyone having any shame, blame or stigma attached to it because that's part of the healing process to be able to talk about it. We are trying to encourage people who have not disclosed, that they can seek support if they should wish."

Northamptonshire Rape Crisis are now working with PubWatch as well as community safety partnership to help enforce schemes like Ask Angela and The Purple Flag in Northampton.-

Talking about whether Northampton should have safe places for clubbers to go, she added: "I think there are a couple - I think a couple of bars have them - but I think there needs to be more, there definitely needs to be more. We as an organisation would welcome any partnership working to look what best practice here and how we could implement it here."

All 16 events taking place between 24 November and 8 December have been organised by Northampton Borough Council, the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Rape Crisis, Northampton Domestic Abuse Service and Northampton Right and Equality Council to support the national 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign.

Councillor, Rachel Cooley (Lab, St George), who was marching on Friday night, said: "I do believe that Northampton in 2017 should be a place that's safe for all people - particularly at night-time, we do have a lot of crime in the town and in the county.

"There is a lot of statistics out there which demonstrate that vulnerable people - young people, women and LGBT people - can be victims of crime.

"By coming out tonight and marching with people from all different backgrounds, it's a sign that we want better for our town - and that everyone is welcoming in Northampton and safe in Northampton but we still need to change the culture."

Rachel believes Northampton's night-time economy could benefit from having a safe place.

She added: "A safe place is home, in my opinion, once you have got to that point where you feel that you are not quite with it or in control - then go home and make sure your friends are looking after you.

"Safe Places for people that are lost or vulnerable or may have had one too many drinks - I've been there in my youth so I do not what it's like, I am speaking from experience - but I definitely think we could do with some safer spaces."