School of Business and Law

Inspiring journeys to work

Project vigilant photo

Brighton academic driving police action against night-time sexual harassment

A University of Brighton criminology expert is part of an ongoing initiative by Thames Valley Police to better tackle sexual harassment and assault at night.

Dr Chris Magill is evaluating the impact of the scheme – called Project Vigilant – which is based on expert insights into ways to cut sexual harassment and assault on women out at night in Oxford, Reading, Milton Keynes and Windsor.

Begun in 2019, the scheme uses a combination of uniformed and plain clothed officers to carry out patrols in areas around night clubs and bars, identifying men displaying predatory behaviour and other forms of sexual harassment, including inappropriate touching. Plain clothed officers who identify such behaviour call in dedicated Project Vigilant uniformed officers to stop those identified and take action to discourage their behaviour – including arrest.

Project Vigilant has contributed to a reduction in sexual offences linked to the night-time economy in the four areas involved. Between 23 July and 5 October 2021, compared to the same dates in 2019, there was a 12.5% decrease in sexual violence in night-time economy spots, and a 77% reduction in stranger rapes in these areas. In addition, 99 men were stopped by police, with nine arrests made in relation to predatory behaviour during this period.

Thames Valley Police was awarded £90,000 of Home Office funding to fund a dedicated Sergeant to coordinate Project Vigilant across the force, and commission the academic evaluation by University of Brighton into the effectiveness of the project, which will run until March 2022. As well as cutting current and future offending, the aim is to provide insights into how to boost public confidence and help police improve engagement.

Dr Chris MagillDr Magill, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, said: “Violence against women and girls is not a new issue but it is being increasingly recognised as significant. Working in partnership with agencies such as the police is key to ending such violence, and I am pleased to be supporting Thames Valley Police in an evaluation of their Project Vigilant. The evaluation is important as it aims to evidence how the project works in preventing sexual violence in the night-time economy.”

Detective Chief Inspector James Senior, the police force lead for Project Vigilant, said: “We launched Project Vigilant in 2019, and following these latest statistics, it is reassuring to see that it is contributing to reducing the number of sexual offences in the night-time economy, ensuring we are able to protect and safeguard our communities.

“Retaining the public’s trust and confidence in the police is particularly vital at the moment, and Project Vigilant is just one way in which the force is working hard to do this.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Clare Prust • November 2, 2021

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar