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Westminster’s Night Stars shine brighter as new volunteers hit the streets to protect women and West End visitors after dark

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A group of night stars on shift

Published: 29 July 2022

Westminster City Council will benefit from the government’s Safer Street Fund after receiving the only grant awarded in London, which will pay for:

  • An increase in the area Night Stars cover and introduce patrols on Saturdays as well as Fridays.
  • A total of £289,600 has been awarded and will be used for different projects for the Night Safety Programme.
  • Funding for a behavioural change campaign that targets threatening behaviour towards women.

Westminster’s team of over 70 Night Star volunteers is set to expand following a £70,000 slice of government grant. It means the team - widely recognised as pioneers in City safety - can now patrol extra streets as part of the council’s Night Safety Programme which ensures women and other vulnerable people out for the night feel safe. The Night stars, launched earlier this year are there to work in partnership with St John Ambulance and the Metropolitan Police and offer help, advice, or steer people who may have simply overdone it.

The grant will also be used to roll out women’s safety training for business staff and Night Star volunteers, helping women who feel upset or uncomfortable to use the “Ask for Angela” codeword. The code-phrase will indicate they require help and venues or our volunteers will assist them. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police. 

The funding will also be used to support different schemes including women’s night safety walks, a business accreditation scheme and a behavioural change campaign. The campaign will help identify threatening behaviour, how to act on it and ways to prevent them from happening in the future. A specific focus will be on challenging the behaviour of men and tackle the stigma of active bystanding.

Making sure all users of Westminster’s evening night-time economy stay safe is a top priority, however women’s safety continues to be a real issue. In the last year there were over 1300 sexual offences recorded in Westminster and women are 2.5x as likely to feel unsafe at night than men. Consequently, this new campaign and increased funding to existing schemes will help to tackle this.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality said:

The West End is coming back to life post-pandemic, and we want everyone to enjoy our clubs and bars. Equally visitors out in the West End, particularly women, have a right to feel safe. We are now able to ramp up our support for women, both through our Night Stars and the system that allows women to talk to bar staff if they feel threatened.

As the parent, I know the anxieties when their children go out. We are absolutely committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy a fun but safe night out