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Venues lead the way in fight against sex pests

(from left) Tina Matthew, of Northamptonshire Rape Crisis; Kerrie Mullen; Northamptonshire Police’s crime prevention team leader Paul Golley; chief executive of Northamptonshire Rape Crisis Dawn Thomas; venue director Suzy Keeping at The Picturedrome

Scheme trains staff to tackle harassment

Intervention training designed to spot and make safe situations of sexual harassment in bars, pubs and clubs across Northamptonshire is under way.

The Shout-Up! initiative is being delivered by Northamptonshire Rape Crisis and funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold. It aims to upskill those working in the county’s night-time economy so they identify sexual harassment and intervene safely.

The Picturedrome, The Old White Hart, and NB’s Cocktail Bar and Club in Northampton are the first venues to have had all their staff complete bystander intervention training. Now the commissioner has launched a wider campaign to target violence against women and girls.

Certification, which lasts for two years with six-monthly assessments, also requires establishments to have a publicly available sexual harassment policy, to implement practices that protect staff and patrons from sexual harassment and to have a documented procedure for dealing with incidents.

Commissioner Mold said: “Sexual harassment has a huge impact on the lives of those who have suffered from it and, as the commissioner, I need to ensure we make Northamptonshire as safe as it can be for everyone who lives or works here. This training will help hospitality staff to recognise the potential signs and trigger points of sexual harassment, to intervene in a safe manner and offer appropriate support to victims. Ultimately, we hope it will help Northampton to provide a safer and more enjoyable night out for everyone.”

Training has taken place in Northampton and Kettering and is due to roll out across the county in the next few months. A total of 40 night-time economy workers have been through the process so far, with more due to complete shortly.

Shout-Up started in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2017 and Northamptonshire is the first area outside the North East to adopt it. Certified venues must:

  • Have all staff complete Bystander Intervention Training;
  • Write and share sexual harassment policies protecting staff and patrons;
  • Have a publicly available procedure for dealing with incidents of sexual harassment;
  • Commit to making their venue a sexual harassment-free zone;
  • Display visible signage explaining their participation in the scheme and what patrons can expect to happen in the event of sexual harassment;
  • Commit to undertake six-monthly reviews on policies, procedures and training that they must pass to retain their certification.

Matt Kitchker, area manager of NB’s Cocktail Bar and Club said: “Being a part of Shout-Up! lets our customers know we are serious about zero tolerance of sexual harassment at our venue. Sexual harassment ruins the experience for customers and staff and being part of Shout-Up! demonstrates we will not be tolerating it. The specialist training provided by Shout-Up! has given the team here the tools and confidence to build on the work we do to deal effectively with these situations.”

Suzy Keeping, director of both The Picturedrome and The Old White Hart Inn, added: “We have a zero-tolerance policy of sexual harassment in our venues and are proud to be able to celebrate that by becoming Shout-Up!-verified. It is so important to us that all our customers and staff come into the venue feeling safe.

“There is no place in Northampton’s nightlife scene for sexual harassment. Everyone should get on board to show it is not welcome in this town.”

Pubs and venues have enthusiastically backed the initiative. “We all want the same thing; that our pubs and clubs are a safe place for everyone to go,” said Northamptonshire Rape Crisis’ chief executive Dawn Thomas.

Shout-Up! training also enables pubs and venues to understand how they can intervene for their staff. “Too often harassment of staff is normalised,” said Ms Thomas.