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Officers from our Epping Forest and Brentwood Community Policing Team (CPT) have been on patrol at Loughton’s tube station and High Street to provide a visible, reassuring presence and find out where women and girls feel unsafe.
Operation Charlotte has been running at tube and train stations across the district and what began as an anti-robbery initiative is now focussed on making sure women and girls are safe as they return from work or head for a night out.
Working alongside partners from Epping Forest District Council’s anti-social behaviour team, the CPT team invited people to answer short questionnaires about where they felt safe, if they had any other concerns and what they thought could be done to make them feel safer in any problem areas they had identified.
They also handed out drink spiking detection strips, personal alarms and safety advice from a stand outside the station where they were joined by District Commander Chief Inspector Tina Cooper.
A/Insp Rob Fitt of Epping Forest and Brentwood CPT explained how the purpose of the operation evolved:
“People were telling us that they felt most unsafe in the alleyways around the tube stations in the district, especially late at night, and a lot of the incidents were women reporting VAWG (violence against women and girls) offences.
“On evenings and weekends - when we see the most activity in the night-time economy – we’ve had officers situated in all the areas that people walk through from the tube station to the licensed venues, to provide that highly visible presence.
“Rather than us just assuming we know where the problem areas are, the stall is there for people to talk to us and highlight any issues they have. It could be a police issue like anti-social behaviour, or it could be something simple like a lack of lighting that we could work with our partners to address.
“But we’re not just talking to people, and by giving out the anti-drink spiking strips and the alarms, they are being given items that will help women and girls stay safe.”
A/Insp Fitt added that the operation will continue to run at stations across Epping Forest and Brentwood districts in the coming months with a particular focus Loughton, Epping, and Debden stations as they have a high footfall and a busy night-time economy.
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