Commissioner secures government funding for project to improve safety for women and girls in Woking

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend has secured nearly £175,000 in government funding to help improve safety for women and girls in the Woking area.

The ‘Safer Streets’ funding will help Surrey Police, Woking Borough Council and other local partners boost security measures along a stretch of the Basingstoke Canal after a bid was submitted earlier this year.

Since July 2019 there have been a number of incident exposures and suspicious incidents towards women and young girls in the area.

The money will go towards installing extra CCTV cameras and signage along the canal footpath, the removal of foliage and graffiti to improve visibility and the purchase of four E bikes for community and police patrols along the canal.

A designated canal neighbourhood watch has been set up by local police, named “Canal Watch” and part of the Safer Streets funding will support this initiative.

It is part of the latest round of the Home Office’s Safer Streets funding which has seen around £23.5m shared across England and Wales for projects to improve safety for women and girls in local communities.

It follows previous Safer Streets projects in Spelthorne and Tandridge where funding helped improve security and reduce anti-social behaviour in Stanwell and tackle burglary offences in Godstone and Bletchingley.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “Ensuring we improve safety for women and girls in Surrey is one of my key priorities so I am delighted we have secured this crucial funding for the project in Woking.

“During my first week in office back in May, I joined the local policing team along the Basingstoke Canal to see first-hand the challenges they have in making this area safe for everyone to use.

“Sadly, there have been a number of incidents of indecent exposure which have targeted women and girls using the canal path in Woking.

“Our police teams have been working really hard with our local partners to tackle this issue. I hope this extra funding will go a long way to supporting that work and will help make a real difference to the community in that area.

“The Safer Streets Fund is an excellent initiative by the Home Office and I was particularly pleased to see this round of funding have a focus on enhancing the safety of women and girls in our neighbourhoods.

“This is a really important issue to me as your PCC and I am absolutely determined to make sure my office continues to work with Surrey Police and our partners to find ways to make our communities even safer for everyone.”

Woking Sergeant Ed Lyons said: “We are delighted that this funding has been secured to help us tackle the issues we have had with indecent exposures along the Basingstoke Canal towpath.

“We have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure that the streets of Woking are safe for everyone, including working with our partner agencies by introducing a range of measures to prevent further offences from taking place, as well as carrying out numerous enquiries to identify the offender and ensure they are brought to justice.

“This funding will enhance the work we are already doing and go a long way to making our local communities a safer place to be.”

Cllr Debbie Harlow, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Women and girls, along with everyone in our community, have the right to feel safe, whether that’s on our streets, in our public spaces or recreational areas.

“I welcome the announcement of this crucial government funding that will go a long way in providing additional security measures along the Basingstoke Canal towpath, in addition to supporting the ongoing ‘Canal Watch’ initiative.”

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