Bradford is to become the world’s first WalkSafe city with the launch of a new initiative to help businesses ensure their employees make safe journeys on foot across the centre at any time of day or night.
The city’s Business Improvement District (BID) has teamed up with WalkSafe to become the first city anywhere to introduce a free phone app that gives users the power to be in control of their own safety.
It enables users to pick safer routes home as well as share them with family and friends so they can monitor
their safe arrival, sending automatic alerts if they fail to reach their destination.
The WalkSafe+ app also shows the location of safe space premises and the live location of Street Angels and the Evening and Night Marshalls.
And it includes a suite of features specifically designed to help companies who want to engender a safety culture among their staff and make sure they get home safe.
The app, which has seen more than 500,000 downloads in the wake of the brutal murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021, was officially launched today – 24 January – by Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, at The Light cinema, in Bradford.
Lowe, who is also Patron of Bradford at Night, said: “The Mayor launched the Police and Crime Plan with an overall vision of a safe, just and inclusive West Yorkshire and she is driving this work forward in her Safety of Women and Girls strategy.
“This app builds on the huge amount of work already done to help women and girls feel safe, and means we are a step closer to achieving that vision.
“The WalkSafe+ app is another great tool that people can use to help keep themselves safe.”
The launch is being funded by Bradford BID and Bradford at Night with the support of a grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund, which aims to tackle violence against women and girls.
WalkSafe is the brainchild of 34-year-old Emma Kay who, as a daughter of a Metropolitan Police officer, was
subject to many rules to keep her and her siblings stay safe when out and about.
Despite this, she experienced catcalling, following, groping and flashing.
As an adult, she volunteered at a community centre for people in crisis and saw first hand the experiences women had, specifically their fear of the streets at night, confirming her fear that personal safety is an issue that affects everyone.
She said: “WalkSafe is the most downloaded UK personal safety app and in the coming months we will be featuring more safe spaces, Street Angels and highlighting poorly-lit streets on our Safety Map in addition to our HomeSafe and Get Me Home features.”
Bradford BID manager, Jonny Noble, said: “Bradford is no worse than any UK city when it comes to safety but
we want a situation where everyone – and, especially, women and girls – feel safe to walk through the city
on their way to and from work, shopping or socialising at any time of day.
“WalkSafe is a brilliant tool to help us achieve that and we’re proud and thrilled to be working with its creators to establish the first WalkSafe city in the world.
“There is no excuse for any woman or girl to suffer harassment, let alone violence or sexual assault, and we want Bradford to be known as a place where everyone knows that the safety of all who live work and spend their leisure time here is paramount.”
WalkSafe is also able to help businesses with the safety of their employees.
Michael Neligan, WalkSafe CEO, said: “In addition to our free WalkSafe+ personal safety app we also have a suite of products specifically designed to help companies who want to engender a safety culture.
“These products include bespoke Safety Seminars for employees to help them avoid being victims of violent street crime and WalkSafe Pro so managers can see their team arrived home safe.”