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New ‘safe zone’ created to help women feel safer in Watford

Police and partners in Watford are piloting a dedicated scheme to help women feel safer during a night out.

Over the last few months Women’s safety has in the news following Sarah Everard’s murder by Police Office Wayne Couzens, and a growing trend in needle spiking.

A ‘safe zone’ has been created inside a private room provided by PRYZM where paramedics and security staff are stationed where medical attention can be given and vulnerable people can be safeguarded.

This can be accessed directly from the High Street without needing to enter the club.

The project is being coordinated by Sergeant Craig Butler from the Watford Safer Neighbourhood Team.

While it has primarily been launched as part of Watford’s action plan to tackle violence against women and girls, the safe zone is available to everyone – whatever their gender.

At the weekend several people had been allegedly injected via needle, which is of national concern.

Herts police: “in recent weeks there has been extensive media coverage on the topic of suspected needle-spiking in nightclubs across the UK, however to date there have been no confirmed incidents in Watford.”

Watford Chief Inspector Ian Grout said: “This project is still very much in its infancy but what it has proved is that we are stronger together. By having the support of our partners from the borough council, Watford BID and PRYZM themselves, I am confident that we are able to make a real difference.

“Those who regularly visit the bars and clubs in Watford know that there always is a high-visibility police presence for the night time economy. I personally spent some time with my teams in Watford town centre during a weekend earlier this month and everyone was in very good spirits.

“It was great to see the safe zone in action and while we thankfully did not see scores of people having to use its services, we were able to assist a small number who required our help to make it home safely.

“Together with our partners, we all have a responsibility to make Watford an even safer place to enjoy a night out and we are looking forward to further developing this project in the run up to Christmas and into the new year.”

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “One of the reasons Watford is such a safe town is that along with the police and other partners we pilot projects like these and continuously look at how we can improve things – we never get complacent. We’re proud to support this worthwhile project which will make women feel supported and even more confident while enjoying a night out in our lively town. Watford is a town for everyone, so it’s important that we ensure women can go out, have fun and feel safe while doing so.”

PRYZM’s general manager, Jason Ash, said: “Everyone should feel safe on a night out, and this partnership approach demonstrates we are doing everything we can to protect this right. We are delighted to be able to provide the facility for the ‘safe zone’ and hope that people will continue to come out and enjoy a safe and fun night out in Watford.”

The safe zone – which can be accessed directly from the High Street without needing to enter the club – is currently available on both Friday and Saturday nights, and this will be subject to future review.

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