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Call for fire stations to be used as ‘safe spaces’ for women who feel in danger

27 Jan 2022 3 minute read
Flint fire station and tower. © Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse (CC 2.0)

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

A call has been made for fire stations in Flintshire to be made available as “safe spaces” for women who feel in danger.

The suggestion has been put forward following several high profile cases of violence towards women, including the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard last year.

The incidents have sparked a debate about women’s safety, leading some UK fire services to offer their stations for anyone in need of somewhere safe.

In November, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service announced an open door policy for people who feel vulnerable or are fleeing domestic abuse.

The idea for it to be replicated in Flintshire was raised at a council meeting on Tuesday (January 25, 2022), where politicians discussed local issues with North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin.

Hope councillor Gladys Healey said she had noticed similar schemes in parts of England and believed it would help women in the county to feel safer.

She said: “I see you’re dealing with domestic violence which I’m quite happy with because domestic abuse is on the increase in particular during Covid.

“I believe in England that any woman who feels that she’s in danger can go to the fire service.

“They can just walk in and ask for help if they are not near a police station.

“What are we doing in Flintshire regarding this?”

In response to Cllr Healey’s comments, Mr Dunbobbin said he was aware of some pubs in Flintshire introducing initiatives to help women stay safe.

‘Anyone feeling at risk’

It includes the Ask for Angela scheme which allows anyone feeling at risk to discreetly signal to bar staff for assistance.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has now said it is willing to consider Cllr Healey’s request.

In a statement issued to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, assistant chief fire officer Helen MacArthur, said: “We’re committed to protecting our communities as a whole – especially those who may be more vulnerable.

“While we have no confirmed plans as yet for making our fire stations into ‘safe havens’, we will be considering this and similar options in the future.

“Keeping our communities safe is a priority for us – and as part of this commitment, we have supported White Ribbon events for a number of years with colleagues completing the ambassador or champion training promising never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.

“All staff have received training in accordance with the national training framework on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and safeguarding training.”

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