Many of London’s bars, clubs and other licensed businesses are busy throughout the night, and customer numbers are expected to increase over the August Bank Holiday weekend. In some cases, due to the lockdown, this will be the first time some 18 and 19-year-olds have set foot in licensed premises.
The safety initiative ‘Ask for Angela’ is being rolled out to many venues across London. People who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist them. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.
Venues that support Ask for Angela will also have been given or offered Welfare and Vulnerability Engagement (WAVE) training. Delivered by the Met’s licensing officers and Safer Sounds, it gives staff the ability to help customers who may be in a situation that makes them vulnerable or unsafe. Following completion of training, venues will receive Ask for Angela posters and digital media to display in their premises. So far over 350 frontline staff from over 150 London venues have been trained since the start of August.
Ask for Angela was originally developed by Lincolnshire County Council and adopted by the Met in 2016 as a localised initiative by its police licensing officers. The introduction of WAVE training in 2017 underpinned the delivery of Ask for Angela and more venues began to take on the initiative. Lockdown interrupted its progression but now that businesses are reopening, they are keen to make their venues as safe as possible. The initiative has now been re-energised as a wider campaign supported with enhanced training and broadened to include anyone who feels vulnerable.
Organisations can receive WAVE training through the Safer Sounds Partnership or via their local licensing team. The training explores what vulnerability is, how to identify it and appropriate interventions. A range of online assets and webinars are available. You can visit www.safersounds.org.uk/wave to find out more.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors joined Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden and Phillipe Chiarella from Safer Sounds at the Ministry of Sound today (Wednesday, 25 August) to highlight the importance of the campaign to representatives of the licensed business sector and to raise awareness among the public.
DAC Connors said: “I am really pleased to see that so many venues are embracing this scheme and I would urge anyone who finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation in a licensed venue to Ask for Angela.
“No one should have to put up with unwanted attention or predatory, sexual or violent behaviour. This scheme makes it easier for anyone feeling unsafe or threatened on a night out to access support quickly and discreetly. This might mean reuniting them with a friend they were out with, contacting family or friends, calling a taxi or, if necessary, involving security staff or police.”
She added: “The Met Police is absolutely committed to tackling violence. We want everyone to be safe anywhere in London and be able to go about their business without fear or feeling unsafe.”
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: “The Ask for Angela initiative is a great example of London Councils, the Met Police, City Hall, Safer Sounds, and venues across London working together to deliver real change.
“It builds on the success of City Hall’s Women’s Night Safety Charter – which is working to prevent and reduce sexual violence and ensure public spaces are safe at night – and is an important part of our comprehensive approach to tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.
“With restrictions lifting and many of London’s clubs and bars open and busy throughout the night, it’s vital we do everything we can to prevent and reduce sexual violence and harassment. The Ask for Angela initiative will make accessing vital support quick and easy for those feeling unsafe or threatened and I would encourage all of London’s night-time venues to sign up.”
Phillipe Chiarella, Programme & Training Manager, Safer Sounds said: “What is clear from the work that Safer Sounds does with licensed premises is that businesses want to tackle vulnerability head on, but staff can be unsure of how to identify a vulnerable person and make an appropriate intervention. Venues who sign up to our WAVE programme ensure their staff are trained and empowered to actively assist customers in trouble and thereby prevent and reduce violent and sexual offences from taking place.
“Our revitalisation of Ask for Angela shows that sexual harassment and assaults will not be tolerated in London’s venues. By providing assets for social media, we are encouraging conversations about acceptable behaviour that will have a positive impact on the safety of those who visit licensed premises.
“Safer Sounds is committed to being a voice for business on this important issue and to working with the police, Mayor’s Office and councils to ensure that vulnerability is tackled in partnership with venues.”