How safe are women in Plymouth?

With the recent surge of spiking cases, sexual assault and even murder in Plymouth, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to feel safe on a night out or even venturing out in the dark for a walk or to see your friends. 

Since the body of a young woman was found on Bovisand beach near Plymouth on Tuesday 23rd November, thought to be that of Bobbi-Anne McLeod, the safety of women in Plymouth is becoming even more apparent. 

On Saturday 20th November, the eighteen year old woman left her home at 6pm and was about to catch a bus into the city centre to meet her friends but never got on the bus. Her AirPods and tobacco were found at the bus stop and her mobile phone was later handed in to the police. She was last seen at around 6:15pm. Now that Daylight savings has ended, evenings in Plymouth become dark around 5pm.

For women, going out in the dark increases vulnerability and it seems that this is when women are targeted the most. There have been multiple sexual assault cases in Plymouth throughout the past few months, with a female recently being sexually assaulted on a night out on The Barbican in a side street between 00:40-2:30am on Sunday 14th November but the attacker hasn’t been found yet. 

However, the increase in spiking cases throughout Plymouth is just as concerning. Due to a large student population in Plymouth, there are many young women in their twenties who are being targeted in nightclubs. 

Spiking is when drugs are inserted into an unsuspecting person’s system, through the form of a pill placed into a drink or through injection. Due to intoxication, some don’t realise they have been spiked but there have been a few cases that have resulted in death. Typically, the drugs used in the injections are mostly the same drugs used as ‘date-rape’ drugs. The worrying fact is that some victims of spiking are sexually assaulted once they ‘black out’.

The generic advice that is being given at the minute is aimed at women to be more vigilant.

  • Use items in your handbag to protect/defend yourself. Such as: keys, deodorant or pens.
  • If a police officer stops you but you aren’t sure if they are legitimate, then call 101 or 999 to check their identity.
  • Download various apps that will alert specific contacts of your location and voice recordings, such as Hollie App.
  • If you’re concerned that you’re being stalked or followed, walk towards a busy road, a shop or business where you can alert them that you need help.
  • Tell your friends and family about your plans; where you’re going, who you are meeting and what time.
  • Don’t go out when it’s dark and if you do, go out in a group of 3 or more.
  • Always watch your drinks, don’t leave them and try to get a cup cover (such as cup condoms).
  • Watch how much you drink, as intoxication affects your ability to perceive.

Understandably so, the advice is aimed at women but many publications seem to be pointing blame on women for doing things that are normal. And men can do these things without worrying. However, surely the advice should be aimed at men to stop assaulting and attacking women. 

  • In light of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we feel the advice should be:
  • If you feel like you are going to rape someone on a night out, then ask a friend to take you home and find support.
  • When walking, if you see a woman by herself, cross the road and leave her alone.
  • Don’t put anything in someone else’s drink.
  • No means no, don’t force yourself onto another person.
  • Don’t sexually assault people when they’re vulnerable due to intoxication.

The focus should not only be on supporting women, but on teaching people from a young age to respect others, especially women and introducing services to help anyone who shows concerning signs that they want to harm an individual through spiking, sexual assault or worse.

For more information on this topic and how to find support, visit the links below:

https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/

https://patient.info/news-and-features/where-to-find-support-if-you-have-been-a-victim-of-drink-spiking

https://www.cruse.org.uk/understanding-grief/grief-experiences/traumatic-loss/violence-crime/

https://thetab.com/uk/2021/03/10/women-are-sharing-how-men-can-make-them-feel-more-safe-at-night-198519

 

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