Cllr Mark Hackett of Edenderry MD, Chairperson together with members of the Subgroup, presented the report and recommendations to the Offaly Joint Policing Committee on Monday 5th December.
He said “I was heartened to see from the survey results that the majority of Offaly people feel safe in our public spaces. That is good news but not surprisingly, it became obvious very quickly, from the same survey responses, that fear and experience of gender-based violence and harassment are not experienced equally: Women and members of the LGBT+ community had the lowest sense of safety from gender-based violence in public spaces.”
Two surveys were conducted as part of the Subgroup’s work; one was online and the other one conducted during town ‘walkabouts’ in Birr, Tullamore and Edenderry on ‘Offaly Safety Day” in June. In total 335 responses were recorded. These showed that women and minorities including members of the LGBT+ community are more likely to experience gender-based harassment in public spaces and have the highest likelihood to change their behaviour because of this.
Other groups identified as being at risk were the elderly, ethnic minorities including Travellers and those who had experience of intimate partner abuse.
Cllr Mark Hackett said “The finding that shocked me the most was that of 36 women, or 23% of the online survey, who said they had experienced gender-based harassment in a public amenity in the last 5 years, 12 of them said this was by an ex intimate partner. I believe we need to press home the zero tolerance approach and challenge this on all levels: I hope we have covered this as comprehensively as possible in our recommendations. My thanks to all who contributed to this report including the members of the public, volunteers on Offaly Safety Day and the stakeholders who shared their time and expertise.”
Superintendent Ollie Baker, a member of the Subgroup said “As repeated many times during the consultations leading to this report, the greatest risk of gender-based violence is not from a stranger in the public realm, it's in what should be the security of our homes, from people known to us and often intimate partners. I welcome the recommendations which reference building of awareness in the area of intimate partner abuse and the development of ‘safe spaces’.”
Cllr Mark Hackett said “Recommendations are only as good as the commitment to their implementation. We are handing this report and recommendations over to Offaly Joint Policing Committee and Offaly County Council in good faith that the safety of women, girls and all at risk of gender-based violence in the public spaces of Offaly will improve as a result of this work.”
Superintendent Ollie Baker concluded “I would like to reassure the people of Offaly that this is, generally, a safe place to enjoy our many public amenities without fear of gender-based violence or harassment. I believe that the recommendation on establishing an interagency working group to progress CCTV systems is an important step in providing peace of mind for the many who enjoy the Grand Canal Greenway.”
View the full report and recommendations here: SAFETY IN PUBLIC SPACES FOR WOMEN & GIRLS & ALL OTHER PERSONS AT RISK OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE - Report by Sub Group of JPC Dec 2022.pdf.pdf (size 3 MB)