Police stepping up summer campaign
Here comes the sunflower
WOMEN are being urged to help paint a picture of the level of harassment that goes on in Cheltenham during race week.
A #metoo campaign has been launched to generate a safer atmosphere in the town when tens of thousands of visitors pour in for the high profile sporting event in March.
A sexual abuse charity will meet police and borough council officials next month to look at what can be done to help stamp out incidents of verbal and physical harassment.
Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Support has started using the #metooatcheltenhamraces hashtag on Twitter, and has posted a survey which it wants people to complete.
It asks people to detail abuse they have suffered, and to say whether they reported it to the police.
Posters have been produced which urge women to report incidents of everything from catcalling to groping, and which ask bystanders to intervene if they see someone being harassed.
Grasac chief officer Maggie Stewart said there could be an unpleasant edge to Cheltenham in race week.
”I’m from Newcastle, which is a race town, and I thought it seemed a bit odd
that people were saying ‘don’t go out in race week’ here. But then I realised that it wasn’t very safe around town. There’s an edge to it,” she said.
Cheltenham Borough Council said the campaign was aimed at raising awareness of sexual violence.
Cabinet member for healthy lifestyles Councillor Flo Clucas said: ‘’The aim of the campaign - which has been very well received - is to address the different types of sexual harassment and violence people face and to ensure that anyone affected feels able to get the help they need.
Bosses at the racecourse have given the new campaign their full backing.
A spokeswoman said: “The festival at Cheltenham is about four fantastic days of world-class racing and fun. We take a zero tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour and of course any kind of harassment is completely unacceptable, so we fully support this campaign.”
Inspector John Turner from Gloucestershire police said earlier this year that race week was ‘a very safe event.’
At the launch of the campaign, he said: “Reports of sexual violence don’t traditionally increase during race week, which is a very safe event, but Grasac has raised concerns that they believe some offences, particularly during the night time economy, go unreported.”
THE perfect place for a summery family photo is now ready. From 9.3010.30am on a Sunday, Cotswold Farm Park’s sunflower meadow will be free to enter. For more infomation visit cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk/ whats-on/event/sunflowersundays-free-event/