Stroud NHP statement following community meeting about women's safety
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Following concerns raised by the Stroud community, a public event was held on Tuesday evening (9 August) to discuss the safety of women and girls.
Stroud's Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Paul Cruise said: "I wanted to personally thank every single person who attended our community meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the sexual attacks on women that have occurred in Stroud recently.
"The meeting was called off the back of a number of awful and frightening rapes, sexual assaults and inappropriate behaviours. Ranging from two stranger rapes through to young girls being approached by men making lewd comments, incidents of indecent exposure and men masturbating in public.
"The event was attended by around 200 Stroud residents (approximately 90% of which were female). It was also watched online via a live stream and is still available to watch at a later date. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who tuned in virtually and to everyone who asked questions.
"The attendees received a short input from a number of panel members made up of police representatives from our local Neighbourhood Team and from our Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Team. Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson was on the panel also alongside Stroud District Council and MP Siobhan Baillie.
"There was a clear sense of the impact these incidents had on the community. I would like to thank the public for being so open and honest with us. Your experiences were moving and your questions were rightly challenging. Your questions spanned a range of areas and along with all our partner agencies we are committed to taking further action. Every member of our female community has a right to feel safe.
"The investigation into these incidents is ongoing, and we are mindful to not compromise the cases. However, arrests have been made in connection with some of these incidents and the investigations continue. We will continue to relentlessly pursue the men who are responsible.
"I feel this is the starting point of us working more closely with the community, including Stroud Sisterhood group, the Enough’s Enough group and other independent local residents.
"We know that actions speak louder than words, and a number of immediate actions were taken away from the panel. This included improving environmental factors like lighting and overgrown shrubbery and providing more communication on cases to local residents. We are working through all of the feedback we received and will update you on progress in due course.
"The issue of male misogyny and violence towards women is a widespread societal one. It touches almost every aspect of our lives and fixing it will require changes in so many areas, including education, social media, learnt behaviours from adults and peers and of course our criminal justice systems.
"We cannot tackle this issue alone, but we are committed to doing everything we can, alongside our partners, to help stop men committing acts of violence and intimidation towards so many women and girls every day."