Street Safe

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Ever felt unsafe in an area due to a persons behaviour towards you?  Ever felt unsafe due to lack of street lighting or other environmental factors? Want to know more about how we, along with our Community Partners are trying to promote initiative that are there to help you understand and know what to do in an adverse situation? Please read on.....

Street Harassment?  

What do we mean by Street Harassment? Street harassment also referred to as ‘unwanted sexual behaviour’ or ‘sexual harassment’, is all unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that violates a person’s dignity, making them feel intimidated, humiliated and degraded.

Whether experienced in person or online, this behaviour can have serious and lasting effects on its victims. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone – it’s never OK and it’s never an individuals fault. If this behaviour goes unreported or unchallenged the perpetrator could progress onto more extreme and dangerous types of gender based violence or sexual crime.

Some of the more common behaviours you might see are below. Many of them are crimes and need to be reported to police.

  • Cat Calling & Wolf Whistling
  • Cyberflashing - for example, sending or showing sexual images and/or website content/links, commonly transmitted via AirDrop or Bluetooth
  • Exposure / flashing - for example, exposing genitals in a public place
  • Standing too closely & invading personal space when no need to - invasion of personal space on bus or trains etc.

  • Following, persistent following, cornering or isolating - includes deliberately walking closely behind someone at night 

  • Kerb Crawling (non sex worker based)                                                                                

  • Leering or persistent staring                                                   

  • Physical Assault that has a sexual or gender based element   

  • Sexual or obscene gestures 

  • Sexual propositiong or intrusive persistent questioning - when you’ve made it clear you don’t want to talk to someone - e.g. “Have you got a boyfriend/girlfriend?”, “Where are you going?"

  • Sexual Touching (groping) or rubbing up against somone as a means of sexual gratification - for example on public transport or in a crowd.

  • Physical and/or sexual assault, rape - e.g. non-consensual touching, grabbing, groping, stroking, kissing. Sexual intercourse of any kind without consent. 

  • Upskirting (placing a camera beneath a person’s clothing to take a voyeuristic photograph without their permission)

  • Watching explicit content in a public place (e.g. pornography, including in some cases trying to show this content to others nearby)

  • Voyeurism - watching or spying on someone without their consent or knowledge for sexual gratification.

  • Stalking - classed as a pattern of fixated or obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the person targeted.

What should you do if you see this behaviour?                                  

How you should react to street harassment depends on the situation. Your safety is always the first priority, so if you feel the situation could be unsafe, you should walk away from the perpetrators without making eye contact or engaging them at all. 

Each situation is different but in many cases reporting to police is really important, sometimes even a 999 call will be the best course of action for incidents if you or someone else is in imminent or immediate risk of harm. 

Stop Cards

DDC's Community Safety Team have partnered with Kent & Medway Violence Reduction Unit to produce a "Stop Card" which is bright pink business card sized information card.

Stop Cards are designed to be carried by women, girls or any other member of the community who feels vulnerable when out and about in the District in terms of public sexual harassment and can be, under the right circumstances, be handed to any person acting in a way that is giving another, unwanted attention of a sexual nature, or even given by an active bystander, if it feels safe to do so.

The Stop Cards are bright pink and aim to provide a few seconds of distraction when handed to the perpetrator of the behaviour hopefully allowing the subject of the unwanted behaviour a moment to move away, the behaviour disturbed and furthermore the cards provide immediate instruction to stop, and signpost the culprit to important online material that will educate them about the law relating to public sexual harassment how it makes others feel and more importantly material to help educate them to change their behaviour for the future. 


Active Bystander Approach

What do we mean by Active Bystander?                                                            

Normally your instinct will tell you when something doesn’t look right, or when something doesn’t feel right. When someone’s behaviour feels inappropriate, unwanted, offensive or threatening, you can choose to challenge it.

Research has shown that bystander intervention is an effective way of reducing the likelihood of sexual harassment and assault occurring. Before challenging any behaviour, make sure it is safe for you to do so. Your personal safety is a priority and it's important that you are not put at risk of danger when intervening.

Challenging behaviour doesn’t always need to be a direct intervention with a potential offender. It can take the form of a distraction to help remove the victim from the situation. It could be alerting a member of staff in the venue you are in and asking them for help, or it could be waiting for a dangerous situation to pass and asking the victim if they are okay and how you can support them. Here are the 5 D's - principles of Active Bystanding.


The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is offering free one hour training sessions on Bystander Intervention to anyone who wishes to attend. The training enables anyone who witnesses any form of sexual harassment to support the victim and provides guidance on the most practical ways for you to intervene.

Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of a situation, by becoming an active bystander and intervening in any way you can, you are helping to support potential victims and are being proactive in helping to end sexual harassment against women. Thank you for playing your part.

Please also see Don't Do Nothing - Kent & Medway Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) for videos and resources for young people on the same principles for bullying and knife crime too.

What can you do if an area has made you feel unsafe due to environmental factors like poorly lit streets, abandoned buildings, or vandalism?

There is  a pilot service run by for anyone to anonymously report any public space where you have felt or feel unsafe, for more information click here

Partnership Working

For more information on how other local partners also support keeping our streets safe click here