A new online map that women and girls in Essex will be able to use to highlight areas they feel safe or unsafe has been launched in Essex.

The map is being rolled out across the county jointly by Essex County Council, Essex Police and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex. The project is supported by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and researchers at Nottingham Trent University

Residents can access the map at: https://essexcommsafety.commonplace.is/

Similar maps have been used across the country and give women and girls the opportunity to drop a pin on a particular area that they have felt unsafe and state why.

While the map is open for anyone to use, the primary audience is women and girls over 13-years-old.

This initiative follows extensive research by the council’s Safety Advisory Group that shows 16% of women involved felt unsafe in our towns and cities during the day and 47% felt unsafe at night.

This latest initiative is part of the partners’ collective commitment in making the county safer for women and girls and also helping them to feel safer too.

The map can be accessed on a desktop computer or phones and tablets and users can drop a pin to a specific location and write why they felt safe or unsafe there. Other users will be able to see this data too.

All of the data collected will be used by partners to inform their work going forward.

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex Roger Hirst said: “Nobody should feel unsafe in their own community, but the sad fact is that many women and girls do. We have to change that and together we are committed to making our communities be safer and feel safer for women and girls.

“We are already using the data we collect around reported incidents to inform our prevention work but this new platform provides a much stronger, direct route for women and girls to tell us where they feel unsafe so together we can act. The site is designed to be interactive so you can vote up areas already highlighted or highlight a new area for others to see. It is all strictly anonymous but the information you give will make a difference.

“It is up to us all to ensure everybody in our society can live their life in safety. We know women and girls are more likely to be the victims of harassment, stalking and abuse. We also know certain areas create a sense of fear, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change it, we can make our communities safer and it is up to all of us to make that happen.”

“This initiative will be valuable in finding out where in the county women and girls feel most unsafe and why.

“We have already done a lot of work to understand how women in particular perceive safety in the county, but this map will allow us to go one step further by gaining insight at a hyper-local level. We can then address the issues raised and bring about change.”

The Commonplace Platform will be a vital tool to support this work as it will help us to understand, in more depth, the needs of the communities we serve, especially the concerns of women and girls. We don’t want to assume we know where the problems areas are, we want to give the public the opportunity to tell us.

This will then assist us in focussing our efforts in terms of visibility and reassurance as well as crime prevention. We are committed to working as part of the Community Safety Partnership to help people, encourage them to engage with us and to keep them safe.