October 11, 2021 4.22 pm

Lincoln residents sceptical of PCC’s app idea to track women on CCTV for safety

The app is part of a wider scheme to protect women

The Lincolnshire PCC’s idea for a phone app that tracks women on CCTV at night for their safety has come under scrutiny from The Lincolnite readers.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones submitted a bid for government funding as part of the Safer Streets Fund, with some £400,000 being awarded towards the project development.

Part of the money would go towards a mobile app for users to make their location known to City of Lincoln Council’s CCTV control room, which would monitor their journey home and make sure they make it back safely.

The bid was made in light of the tragic case involving Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by then-serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens during her walk home in London earlier this year.

Marc Jones, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. | Photo: Calvin Robinson

The announcement of the app was met with a mixed reaction in The Lincolnite comments section, as many questioned whether it was a correct use of funding.

Rosalyn Young suggested that it was not a good idea, and claimed it would “place the responsibility on women to engage with this mediocre effort. The perpetrator should shoulder the blame, end of.”

Helen Dearnley agreed with Rosalyn’s viewpoint, suggesting: “Maybe an app that stops men from attacking women? Or one that monitored men like Big Brother?”

Plenty of comments suggested that the £400,000 funding would be better assigned to education to eradicate the incidents at source, though that was in fact a key part of the Lincolnshire PCC’s plan.

Mr Jones set out a plan to include development of curriculum materials for key stage five, which will promote women’s rights, as well as encouraging reporting crimes and promoting positive behaviour in society with awareness campaigns.

The main area of concern came from the fact that street lights in Lincoln were still being switched off at night, after a Lincolnshire County Council decision in 2016 to turn off more than half of its 68,000 street lights, in a bid to save £1.7 million.

Sarah Grealish commented: “No point unless the street lights are put back on,” and Pam Hart said “a good idea would be to have the street lights on at night.”

Richard Chudgey also backed the appeals to turn the street lights back on, while Lee Smith commented: “Put the lights on first, without lights the cameras can’t see anyway.”

Public outcry followed the decision to switch off the street lights at night, as almost 75% of respondents to a 2017 survey deemed the changes as “negative or extremely negative”, prompting the council to review its policy.

Enquiries across the county were put in, but just four lights in Pinchbeck were requested to be turned back on at night, and highways chief Cllr Richard Davies said that “residents are not concerned about part-night lighting.”

The issue was brought back into the public light in 2020 following Sarah Everard’s murder, with many women voicing fears for their safety and over 5,000 people signing a petition to keep the street lights on all night.

LCC concluded that women’s safety is “about much more than street lights” and said lighting has “no impact on night-time crime levels” in response to the petition.

There were, however, some commenters who supported the app. Anne Sandever said: “Good idea if the system will work” while Daniel Collins called it a “great initiative.”

Jon Whitworth praised the app, leaving a comment to say: “Good idea. We have the technology these days to do these things.”

PCC Marc Jones previously said: “The project is one of the most significant steps ever taken to protect women and girls in Lincoln.

“It is designed to tackle the problem of keeping them safe through education, technology, training, heightened awareness and partnership working and I hope this holistic approach will provide long lasting solutions.

“This is just one step on a journey towards ensuring women and girls can be and feel safe but I believe it is a very important one.”

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.