Opinion with County Councillor Karen Constantine: Walk without fear?

Cllr Karen Constantine

Walk without fear?

I really want to hear from you about your safety concerns, please join in me in my open letter to the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott about the shocking lack of progress tackling sex crimes across Thanet.

Dear Matthew,

I’m sure we all agree that women should be able to walk alone anywhere without fear. But as reports repeatedly show, this is simply not the case for the vast majority. Women do indeed ‘walk in fear’.

As we hear of a Met Police officer arrested on suspicion of murdering Sarah Everard, women have taken to social media to express their concerns and experiences. YouGov polling shows that 97% of women between 18 to 24 have been sexually harassed, while 80% of women in all age groups reported having experienced sexual harassment in a public place. Isn’t that shocking? Many groups across Kent are holding ‘reclaim the night events’, POW, Power of Women has organised one (observing Covid regulations) this Saturday from 6pm on Margate main sands.

I was outraged by the Thanet rape and sexual assault statistics a few years ago. I wrote to and met with our local MP following a series of rapes and sexual assaults across Thanet. Our crime rates then were worryingly high compared to the rest of Kent, and they remain of huge concern.

Reductions in these hideous crimes are occurring in other parts of Kent but Thanet isn’t seeing a similar decline. Our sex crime rates remain stubbornly high.

Back in 2016 I raised the issue that there were 67 rapes or sexual assault charges in Thanet where there were no arrests made at all, let alone charges or convictions.

Since then the number of rapes and sexual assaults in Thanet remains high.

It can be hard to drill down into the detail but in 2019 / 2020, (the latest figures) there were 85 sexual offences without consent, including statutory rape, which is a slight decrease on the year before 2018/2019.

However the Thanet figure is the highest rate for this type of crime in Kent. Only reducing by 7.3% when the average reduction across Kent is 17.3%. Even larger reductions have been achieved in some parts of the county. Tonbridge and Malling for example has seen a much welcome reduction of 49.1%. Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks have seen reductions of 38.2% and 39% respectively.

Why is Thanet an outlier in Kent, with the highest number of sexual offences, including statutory rape committed here, and why is the reduction in these crimes so low compared to the rest of Kent?

Thanet has also seen 271 Sexual Offences /Violence against a person offences that are sexual in nature including rape, under age sex and sexual grooming. Again this compares badly with the rest of the county. Across Kent this figure has dropped by 7.7% whilst in Thanet this crime has risen by 7.5%.

Right across Kent we have seen sex crimes reducing but the Thanet figures remain extremely worrying.

Nationally we have also seen a 23% drop in the prosecution rate of rape. This is the wrong direction of travel. I’d like to meet with you (online) as a matter of urgency to review these statistics and to ensure a levelling up approach is urgently put into place.”

Cllr Karen Constantine.

Co – signed

Sabina Desir

Richard Lockwood

Margaret Symonds

Danielle-Laura Ward

Stuart Bleazard

Pat O’Brien

Theresa Smith

Jane Heatherington

Lillian Constantine

Viv Yankah

Ala Osmond

Sinead Le Blond

Amy Redmond

I’m keen for as many people as possible to co-sign this letter demanding urgent action. I’m very interested to hear from you,

Has this impacted you?

What do you think of Thanet figures ?

Do you feel safe?

What action needs to be put in place?

I’m already receiving updates on night lighting issues and I will be following these up. Please don’t hesitate to contact me

[email protected]

#ReclaimTheseStreets vigil set to take place in Margate

16 Comments

  1. You cannot put a curfew on all men as if they have never been in trouble for these type of offences, surly the human rights comes into force here.

    • There’s no suggestion of a curfew on men. What I would suggest is more police presence. Reopen Ramsgate police station, ensure all public spaces are properly lit by conducting an audit, ensure all reported incidents are treated properly and fully recorded and secure convictions through the courts. There is lots that can be done. Not least of all education!

      • This isn’t just a woman thing, as an elderly vulnerable pensioner I think twice before going out after dark! Some years ago a friend bought me a small “Criminal Identifier” spray, as she said I am vulnerable after I was attacked by two women! The spray is legal, and I have two now, and never go out without one. It fits into my hand mostly concealed, and I have had to threaten to use it three times! Once when a young man tried to snatch a baby from a young mothers pram! In all cases the offenders thought it was a Pepper spray, in fact it shoots a water soluble jet of paint to a distance of about 3 meters, and I strongly advise everyone to buy one, they are about £8.00.

  2. It is an outrage that our society tolerates methodical and sustained violence against half its population.

    Crimes against women because they are women have to be stopped at the root. But while our police forces fail to act on them the root cause will never be addressed.

    • Our society does not tolerate violence against half its population. The penalties are the same whether the victim is a man or a woman.
      As a matter of fact, men are twice as likely to meet with a violent death as are women; women who are the victims of such crime are most likely to be attacked at home, by someone known to them, than a random stranger in the street.
      It is true that women are more likely to be victims of sexual crimes than men, with around 3% of women reporting sexual assault compared with 1% of men.
      There is a huge difficulty in proving rape. It is almost always one word against another, and in the UK there is a presumption of innocence unless there’s proof beyond reasonable doubt to the contrary.

  3. Please add my name. I have two daughters and want them and their friends to feel safe when out and about anywhere they go.

  4. Please add my name, but it’s a much wider problem. There are men and boys who are being attacked as well. I totally agree this is about Sarah Everard and for our young women. But how many of our LGBC are being attacked. Our streets need to be safe for everyone.

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