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Why do we need Bristol Zero Tolerance?

Gender-based violence has a high cost – it costs lives as well as restricting opportunities and perpetuating inequality. It affects everyone in Bristol, not only those who directly experience gender-based violence, but also their families, communities and our economy.

In 2017-18, the Bristol Quality of Life survey reported that 95% of respondents agreed that domestic abuse was not a private matter and 35% felt sexual harassment is an issue in Bristol. In 2013 78% of respondents felt that tackling violence against women and children should be a priority in Bristol.

The evidence of the need to address gender-based violence is compelling:

  • The March 2016-March 2017 ONS Crime Statistics show that Avon and Somerset Police recorded 16,892 domestic abuse offences, there were also 8,952 child protection referrals for domestic abuse related incidents between 2016-2017. We also know that reporting is still low and this does not represent the full extent of those experiencing domestic abuse. Bristol also has a higher than average number of ongoing Domestic Homicide Reviews.
  • In addition, compared to other core cities in England, Bristol is ranked the third highest reported for sexual offences per thousand population. Estimates suggest that 43,340 women in Bristol are likely to have been raped or sexually abused at some point in their lifetime.
  • Bristol has one of the highest numbers of recorded cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in England. The Bristol Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2016-17 found that during 2015-16 there were 385 newly-recorded FGM cases in Bristol. This is the second highest number of cases in all individual Local Authorities in England.
  • Sexual exploitation has also been highlighted as a key issue in Bristol with a number of high profile cases. The South West Regional Child Sexual Exploitation Problem Profile Appendices 2016 found that in Avon and Somerset between November 2014 and October 2015 it was determined that there were 1,194 sexual offence crimes against under 18s, and of these 422 (35%) were deemed to constitute child sexual exploitation (CSE) or indecent images of children (IIOC) offences.

Bristol Zero Tolerance gathered evidence on street harassment locally as part of The Bristol Street Harassment Project (117 responses to the survey and 38 incidents reported on the online map between April – September 2017). This #snapshotofharassment shows that:

  • 35% of people experienced street harassment weekly
  • 58% of people first experienced harassment when they were between 10-15 years old
  • The most common forms of harassment were being honked at in a vehicle and someone making a comment about their appearance (both 78% of respondents)
  • 70% experienced being called a pet name by a stranger
  • 67% were regularly whistled at
  • 76% of people experienced street harassment during the day
  • 98% of harassers were male and 92% of respondents were female
  • 81% of people had not reported the harassment they experienced to the police.

Since being introduced in Avon and Somerset in October 2017, gender/misogyny hate crime is the second highest reported category, according to the police.

Bristol Zero Tolerance hopes to raise awareness about what gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation entails and how prevalent it is across Bristol as a way to work towards creating a zero tolerance to this behaviour and ultimately preventing it from happening in the first place.