Bedford Town Centre Police operation will tackle male violence against women and girls

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Police on the beat

Bedfordshire Police will be in Bedford Town Centre tonight as part of a new campaign to tackle male violence against women and girls.

The proactive operation, called Project Firefly, will then be rolled out across the county and is supported by a new video where survivors of harassment, sexual assault and domestic abuse share their stories.

Police officers will also be given specialist training, patrols in licensed premises, an increased police presence on the street and a social media campaign aimed at challenging perpetrators of male violence and abuse.

Men jailed

It comes in the same week that Habib Jackson was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 23 years, for murdering his former partner.

Over the past fortnight, men who have committed violence and sexual abuse against women and girls in Bedfordshire have been jailed for more than 50 years overall.

“Sadly, some men behave in an appalling way towards women and girls. Enough is enough – this has to stop,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, the force’s lead for male violence against women and girls.

“Things like misogynistic attitudes, catcalling or groping may not seem to be serious crimes, but they could indicate that someone is capable of far more dangerous behaviour. They also make women and girls feel unsafe,” he said.

The force is now aiming to challenge and irradicate these attitudes and behaviour, focussing on targeting perpetrators, and holding people engaging in this behaviour to account.

Chief Inspector Alex House, leading on Project Firefly, added: “With increased policing and specialist training, we are targeting perpetrators of male violence against women and girls through the way we deploy and engage.

“We have reshaped the way our officers carry out nighttime patrols and the tactics we use, and officers will focus on that early intervention, spotting those early signs and behaviours of street harassment and challenging them before they can escalate.

“Whilst the project has just launched, we are working closely with a number of premises and partners already to get support from across the county.

“Predatory behaviour has no place in Bedfordshire and we are taking a stand to stop it.”

Tackling all forms of abuse

While this campaign focuses on male violence against women and girls, Bedfordshire Police say they remain committed to tackling all forms of abuse, supporting victims of any gender, and tackling both male and female offenders.

You can find out more about Project Firefly and the force’s wider response to male violence against women and girls, at Bedfordshire Police’s website.

Reports can be made to police on 101, or via their online reporting tool. Always call 999 in an emergency.

You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre, by visiting emeraldcentre.org or by emailing info@emeraldcentre.org or calling 01234 897052.

They offer free support and practical help to anyone in Bedfordshire and Luton who has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse.

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