Essex is a safe county- but do you feel safe?

Cllr Louise McKinlay
Deputy Leader- Cllr Louise McKinlay

A blog by Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance

No one in Essex, or anywhere for that matter should feel unsafe when in public.

Essex is a safe county, but do you feel safe?

In April I set up the Safety Advisory Group to address this very question.

At the time, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, a spotlight was shone on women’s safety and a national conversation began about public safety in general.

When I set up the SAG, I wanted it to be a beacon of change, something that sparked the conversation about public safety at a county level and brought about real, tangible change and action.

There is no quick fix or easy solution, it will take time, but it is something we are committed to.

So that we can begin to bring about real change, we need to know where to dedicate our time and resource. To make sure this is going to where it is most needed, we are launching a residents’ survey in a few weeks, where we will be asking a series of questions to gain a better understanding.

The survey focuses on public safety and attitudes towards women in society.

It is initially being sent via our residents panel and to the local Universities, but it is open to everyone wanting to respond. This survey isn’t just a listening exercise. Every piece of feedback we receive will be carefully considered by us and partners, and action and change will come about as a result of the findings.

If you would like to take part, please do sign up to the resident panel and you will be sent the survey to complete.

I look forward to sharing the findings with you.

To sign up to the residents panel please visit the website.

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  1. Comment by Laurence Chung posted on

    This is very disappointing.

    yes there are some quick fixes. A lot of research and voices have shared this. There are simple actions that you can begin to make the first of which is education across all involved in communications for ECC. Today I complained about a very poor Instagram post making light of the issues women and girls face on our streets. The language also sits on the fence, as a man, I know I do not feel anything like the fear that women and girls feel.

    The fact that you have to go through a sign up process and then still do not have instant access to the survey is going to be prohibitive. I know this survey has been outsourced, and I’d have hoped the money spent on managing this survey would have made it accessible, and then an suitable comms plan rolled out to ensure completion by as many people accross the county. This also needs to be shared with young girls, who are unlikely to complete and sign up to the panel. It’s also prohibitive to anyone who does not have digital capabilities.
    It really doesn’t feel like you really want to hear from people in the county, and it’s certainly clear you’re not aiming show people you are listening and wanting to get started on this quickly.

    • Replies to Laurence Chung>

      Comment by leaderandcabinet posted on

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on what is a really important issue.

      I would like to address some of your points.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you about the importance of engaging with young people. Education will be a key focus of the Safety Advisory Group going forward.

      Already we have plans in place to work with the Youth Strategy Groups and the Youth Council to gain their views and encourage feedback and we are looking at ways we can further work with schools and other youth organisations.

      To achieve societal change, I believe that both men and women have a crucial role to play through how they educate and raise their children both in families and in the wider community. To that end, I would encourage responses from across the board.

      Thank you for your points about the survey itself. I understand your concern about accessibility to the survey. However, to ensure we gather the most valuable information as possible from the survey, we need demographic detail, which is what the sign up process enables us to do. However, I recognise your valid points and the team are looking at how the reach of the survey can be expanded.

      Lastly, I would like to reassure you, this is just the beginning of our engagement, with the residents’ panel and universities being our first channel of distribution. We have lots of plans to follow up the survey with additional work with a range of people including focus groups. It is vital that we hear from people in our communities and that is what this piece of the work is designed to do. We will be reporting back with findings and initiatives later this year.

      Cllr Louise McKinlay

      Please note that we aim to approve and respond to comments within 72 hours.

  2. Comment by Laurence Chung posted on

    Additionally - the title of this article is leading. You're asking for public opinions and introducing the survey in this article. The headling "Essex is safe..." is leading

  3. Comment by Laurence Chung posted on

    Thank you for your reply. I have some questions:
    You mention engaging with young people in youth council and certain groups; does the mean that this is putting the survey in environments and visibility of a broad range young people? If its young girls that are putting themselves forward to be on council groups only then this isn't a broad range of essex based young women, as I suspect their activities are different to the broadest range of young women.
    I appreciate requirement to capture demographic detail, but I've completed the registration and have not received the survey. To capitalise on engagement this needs to come to people instantly...again, what I hear is that people want their leaders to be proactive and listening. This process is not showing pro-activity and a cynical mind would say its a way of kicking this in to the long grass.
    Can you address my concerns around the competency and level of learning in this area within ECC? You must be aware of their disastrous communications in this area? Leading by example is key in educating the public and showing men/boys that this is not a joking matters is important and speaks to the roles of men in this you mention above (in the same way that increased prosecutions in rape serves as a deterrent).
    Can you outline the timings for this initiative please? Appreciate that this all takes times to gather, collate and analyse but this does need swift action. As you'll likely be aware that as things open up again the likelihood of a young girl being harassed on the street is increasing, and especially during the summer months, so again showing that leaders understand the importance of showing they are listening and acting here.
    How can I become a member of SAG? And can you please provide details of the members and their experience in this field?
    What level of desk based research has been completed? And what actions are ECC able to take from their findings on this and when - as this is not all driven by the survey

    • Replies to Laurence Chung>

      Comment by leaderandcabinet posted on

      Thank you for your comments.

      As per my previous response, we have plans to extensively engage with a range of young people across the county over the coming weeks and months. This includes through our youth and outreach services, summer youth projects, via social media and other relevant channels. We are also looking at working with schools from September.

      In addition, the Young Essex Assembly will be playing an active role. Their members will be looking to consult with young people across the county on this issue, including hosting a debate in the coming months so there will be plenty of opportunity for young people to feed in to this work.

      As mentioned previously, I have passed your concerns about the survey on to the relevant team and am assured that any new members of the residents’ panel will receive the survey in the next few days, please do contact the residents panel through the website if you do not receive this. Going forward any new joiners will receive the survey straight away after registration, which I hope reassures you.

      The issue of public safety is something that I take very seriously. To that end, it is crucial that we develop a programme of work that is informed by the experience and thoughts of the whole community. The survey is the first step towards that. Targeted discussion and feedback groups will follow and we are working with the universities and other organisations to gather a clearer picture of both the short and longer term measures that we can take. Only then will the funding pot that ECC has set aside be allocated. Further announcements will follow in due course. Thank you once again for your comments.

  4. Comment by Laurence Chung posted on

    Thank you for your reply. There were still a number of unanswered questions.

    Can you address my concerns around the competency and level of learning in this area within ECC?
    Can you outline the timings for this initiative please? (you mention further work with schools from Sept. so this initiative is unlikely to have actions before January 2022)
    How can I become a member of SAG?

    I'm still somewhat concerned on the realistic capabilities of this plan to reach young girls. They won't all enter a debate - as you're aware my daughter is a core member a national campaign to make Street Harassment Illegal (Our Streets Now), and I'm not sure this would be on her radar either...lets alone girls that are less politically minded.
    I appreciate that I'm asking a lot via a small comment section of your blog. I'd very much appreciate a face to face discussion so that I can share my concerns and you can share the details that you already have. We're aligned in making this as beneficial as possible and feel some outside perspective would be helpful.

  5. Comment by Laurence Chung posted on

    Hi - any news on the questions above please?

    Can you address my concerns around the competency and level of learning in this area within ECC?
    Can you outline the timings for this initiative please? (you mention further work with schools from Sept. so this initiative is unlikely to have actions before January 2022)
    How can I become a member of SAG?

    I now have more questions, as you do not seem to want to engage with me on this. I'd be really grateful for a meeting and opportunity to input on making this workstream effective


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