Milton Keynes police launch action to prevent sexual assaults
This new scheme has been expanded after initially being implemented in Oxford.
The latest Thames Valley Police figures show that almost 2,000 women and girls reported rape in just a year.
Project Vigilant was launched in 2019 to target predatory behaviour in order to prevent sexual offences taking place following a 12% increase in non-domestic sexual offences in Oxford.
In Oxford alone, 368 offences were recorded in 2018 and 413 the following year.
The initiative uses a combination of uniformed and undercover officers to carry out patrols to identify people who may be displaying signs of predatory behaviour such as sexual harassment, inappropriate touching and loitering.
Uniformed officers then intervene and take positive action to discourage this behaviour, which may include arrest.
Statistics from the police force show a 50% reduction in rape and 30% reduction in sexual assaults during the hours when evening entertainment venues are open.
Chief Constable John Campbell said: “This proactive approach has had positive results and I am pleased that it has been recognised nationally as an important tactic in combating sexual offending and increasing safety in the night time economy.
“This behaviour is clearly unacceptable and the force works hard to safeguard potential victims and bring offenders to justice.
“Thames Valley Police is committed to making the streets safer and Project Vigilant is just one way in which the force makes the Thames Valley a hostile place for perpetrators wanting to commit sexual offences.”
These same schemes will be active across the rest of the Thames Valley once lockdown restrictions are lifted. The project will take full effect once nighttime entertainment starts back up and pubs and bars reopen in MK.
Thames Valley Police in Oxford, received a crime prevention award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for its work on Project Vigilant.
The Milton Keynes Citizen is asking women to tell us if there are any places where they feel particularly unsafe walking in MK. This information will be passed on to Councillor Lauren Townsend, who is Labour's Cabinet member for Community Safety. She detailed her own personal experiences of sexual assault and harassment in Milton Keynes here.