A free app has been created by Safer Gloucestershire, to help target violence and intimidation against women and girls.
Drink spiking, verbal abuse, inappropriate touching or street harassment. All of these can be shared on a new app being launched in Gloucestershire.
The Flare app, created by Safer Gloucestershire, enables women and girls to anonymously share their experiences of how and where they have felt unsafe in public. The app is anonymous, free to download and quick to use.
‘Flare’ has been created to encourage the reporting of a range of behaviours and incidents which often go unreported to police, including sexual comments made in public, catcalling, stalking, upskirting and more.
The app was funded by the Science, Technology, Analysis and Research (STAR) bid to the Home Office which was submitted by the Constabulary and supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Information shared anonymously on the app will be used by police, councils and local partner agencies to take action.
The data collected through the app will be used to make Gloucestershire safer. This could include improvements such as police patrols targeting certain places, action taken to support a particular bar or club, increased CCTV or improvements made to street lighting.
Assistant Chief Constable Rhiannon Kirk, the Constabulary’s lead for Violence and Intimidation Against Women and Girls, said: “We are working hard every day to make our streets safer for everyone, and we’re hopeful this new anonymous reporting app will enable local agencies to work together and take action.
“We’ve heard the public’s concerns around how women and girls experience inappropriate behaviour on a regular basis, how this impacts their lives and the changes they feel they have to make to their daily routine to keep themselves safe.
“The Flare app will help to improve our understanding of these types of unwanted and unwarranted behaviours and incidents, as well as where they happen, and enable partners to use the intelligence generated to build a picture of what is really happening on our streets, which often goes underreported.
“Tackling violence and intimidation against women and girls is paramount – we will do all we can to ensure they feel safe from harassment, sexual abuse and assaults, when out in our communities and on our streets.
“It is concerning that so many people feel unsafe – whether walking home in the evening, at a pub or club or in certain areas of the county. We want to improve this, as nobody should fear for their safety.
“Our hope is that this app will help build our knowledge of what is happening and where and to use this knowledge to shape our policing of these areas.”
Gloucestershire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Evans, who chairs Safer Gloucestershire, said: “Any incidence of violence, intimidation or harassment of women and girls on our streets should be reported to the police, but we know most are not.
“I want to turn that around and for women to have the confidence that in Gloucestershire, we care about their safety. That’s why information gained through the ‘Flare’ app – which is free and easy to use anonymously – will help us take direct action and place cameras in the very places they feel most at risk.”
A series of roadshows are taking place across the county for the launch of the app. Locations include universities and town centres. A launch event was held at the Royal Agricultural University Campus in Cirencester today, Wednesday 24 November.
Dan Tasker, Head of Student Services at the Royal Agricultural University said: “We are delighted to be able to host the Flare App launch today at the Royal Agricultural University Campus. We have a duty of care to our students that we take very seriously.
“We already work closely with our local pubs and clubs and other partner agencies.
“The Flare app is another step in the right direct to take action against the issue of violence and intimidation of women and girls.”
The Flare app can be downloaded onto a smartphone by visiting http://www.flarereport.co.uk.
Flare is not a means for reporting crime and this can be done by the usual channels of calling 999 in the case of an emergency, or phoning 101 or online for non-emergency crimes at https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard/