The prevalence of violence against women and girls in England and Wales is stark. According to the Femicide Census, between 2009 and 2019, on average, a woman was killed by a man every three days in the UK.
Millions of crimes of violence, abuse, and harassment against women and girls are recorded each year. About 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime, according to global estimates published by the World Health Organisation (WHO). And many more offences often go unreported.
Transport Champions for the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy Chief Executive Laura Shoaf and Executive Director for Transport for West Midlands Anne Shaw conducted a Transport Focus poll in March 2022 and found that 50 percent of women reported avoiding walking as a form of transport due to safety concerns.
The Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development (ICED) Report 2017 estimated that up to 3.7 percent of GDP is lost through women’s fears of accessing employment, tourism, and leisure journeys.
In response to these statistics, Conduent Transportation has trained its on-street parking civil enforcement officers in Oxfordshire to become the first in the country to participate in the “Ask for Angela” campaign to help vulnerable members of the public.
“Ask for Angela.”
The “Ask for Angela” initiative was developed by Lincolnshire County Council as part of the #NoMore campaign to help keep women, on a night out, safe from violence and other threats. Women could discreetly seek help by approaching a hospitality industry staff member at participating venues and ask for Angela. This code-phrase indicated that the person required help with their situation. A trained member of staff would then assist them by reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or calling venue security or the police.
“Ask for Angela” was later adopted by the London Metropolitan Police in 2016 as a localised initiative by its police licensing officers. The initiative was rolled out to bars, clubs, and other licensed businesses across London.
In 2021, Conduent Transportation identified an opportunity to help address violence against women, girls, and vulnerable people by expanding the Ask for Angela campaign beyond the hospitality industry. Conduent contacted a specialist training company, Safer Sounds, to help train on-street parking civil enforcement officers (CEOs) to identify not only vulnerable women and girls, but all individuals in need of assistance.
A working group was formed that included Safer Sound’s Welfare and Vulnerability Engagement (WAVE) experts, Conduent management, and civil enforcement officers. The group examined situations and experiences of abuse or potential violence that CEOs had encountered while on duty, helping WAVE trainers gain better understanding of likely situations and scenarios.
As a result of this training, Conduent’s on-street parking officers throughout Oxfordshire now serve as an extension of the Ask for Angela campaign, working alongside Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, and Oxford Direct Services parking officers, to help keep their communities — especially the most vulnerable members — safe.