A campaign helping women and men in unsafe situations in pubs and bars is being rolled out across the Bassetlaw district.
The Ask for Angela campaign, created by District Commander for Bassetlaw Inspector Hayley Crawford, is due to be rolled out across venues supporting the safety initiative.
Pubs, bars and other venues will place a poster in toilets promoting a 'safe word' to use if they feel they are in danger or in an uncomfortable situation. The distressed person can then approach the bar and discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’ – a fictitious member of staff.
Bar staff and managers will be given training on implementing the scheme which will be provided by Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid.
By using the safe word it will indicate the person needs help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then take them to a safe location and look to support and assist them.
This could mean reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.
The initiative is now set to feature in venues in Worksop town centre and Retford from Wednesday (12 October 2022).
Inspector Crawford created the Ask for Angela campaign in 2016.
At the time she worked as a strategic lead for sexual violence and abuse for Lincolnshire County Council. She started the scheme as part of a wider project to decrease sexual violence and abuse in the night-time economy.
Inspector Crawford said: “I founded the scheme while working closely with the police and the night-time economy.
"I was hearing of people meeting people from dating apps and having bad experiences. It started as part of a much larger project to protect people from sexual violence and abuse.
"I named 'Angela' after Angela Crompton who was abused and killed by her husband in 2012.
"Angela was a good friend of my best friend and her murder devastated those who knew her.
"By using the name of ‘Angela’ for this campaign it felt like a fitting dedication to her (Crompton) as now she was helping to save other victims of abuse.
“The scheme received so much positivity when it began in Lincolnshire and soon was replicated all over the United Kingdom and different parts of the world including the United States and Australia.
"I am excited to relaunch it in my neighbourhood areas which my officers and I protect but also in the future across the whole of Nottinghamshire.”
Partners supporting the Ask for Angela scheme include Nottinghamshire Police, Bassetlaw District Council, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid and the North Notts Business Improvement District.
Staff in licensed Bassetlaw venues, which have signed up and are already familiar with the initiative, will receive full training in due course.
Inspector Crawford added: “The public like that they can ask for help and have that safety net when dating or drinking and the scheme is so simple it makes it easy for businesses to implement.
“More and more people nowadays are using online dating sites to meet new people so this project is incredibly important in giving members of the public that helping lifeline should they need it and if they feel they are in an unsafe situation.
“I am so passionate about protecting people and addressing issues and inequalities and making sure women and girls are protected in all walks of life.
“But this project isn’t just aimed at women, it's targeted at all genders and I want anyone in need of help to realise they can come forward, use the safe words and not be scared to speak up and ask for help. This scheme is relevant to anyone who may feel vulnerable, distressed, upset or in need of assistance.
“No-one should ever be in a situation where they feel unsafe, and I hope by rolling this project out across Bassetlaw, and eventually across all areas of Nottinghamshire, people will feel safer on a night out or date knowing help will be there should it be needed.
“Being part of Nottinghamshire Police is more than just arresting people – it’s about working with the public, working on campaigns like this to protect the public and keep them safe.
“I want people to know that should they ever need to speak to someone our officers are there and will always take the time to chat or give information on helplines available and if anyone ever needs to make a report of sexual assault, violence, harassment or any kind of incident that we will listen and take it extremely seriously.”
Commissioner Henry said: “Keeping people safe in the night-time economy – and ensuring they can feel safe too - is something I am really passionate about.
"Everyone should be able to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves without fear when they go out in Nottinghamshire.
“The Ask for Angela scheme is a fantastic example of a scheme that is already having an impact here in Nottinghamshire and around the globe.
“My office is proud to have given funding through the Safer Streets scheme to train staff at licensed venues in Bassetlaw in how to support anyone who asks for Angela.
"The training will be delivered by Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid and will ensure staff can identify and support vulnerable people who need help.
“This campaign can make a real difference to safety and people’s feelings of safety in Nottinghamshire and I would urge people to help us spread the word about Ask for Angela.
"Please share the campaign messaging on social media and tell your friends and family about the scheme – as it might help someone you know.”
Councillor Julie Leigh, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “We’re really glad to be supporting the Ask for Angela scheme and are pleased pubs and bars across Bassetlaw are participating to protect members of the public.
"Ask for Angela is an excellent way for people to discreetly signal they need help when they feel unsafe.
"'No matter the reason, if you don't feel quite right about the situation you are in, don't hesitate to go to bar staff and Ask For Angela to get help.
"The scheme helps those that are at risk and need assistance, and continues to be a valuable way for people to remain safe from harm.”
A Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid spokesperson said: “We support this campaign as it provides another opportunity for people to ask and get support in our community."
Sally Gillborn, chief executive of North Notts Bid, said: “Our organisation is heavily invested in ensuring the communities of Bassetlaw are safe and accessible places for all.
"The Ask for Angela campaign is a fantastic initiative, which is providing a vital lifeline for those in need, as well as helping reduce potential crime.
"By offering our collaborative support, we hope to help bolster a sense of security for people, pubs and other venues across North Nottinghamshire.”