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West Yorkshire awarded ‘Safety of Women at Night Fund’ as assaults at bus stops fall

BY Phoebe Morton

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has been awarded £215,000 by the Home Office’s ‘Safety of Women at Night Fund’.

According to the  West Yorkshire Combined Authority website, the money will be used to introduce programmes between January and March 2022, such as a bus safety reporting tool and a campaign for a change in the behaviour of males during the night-time economy.

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, Alison Lowe, said this programme of interventions “will see close collaboration with West Yorkshire Police, women and girls’ groups, transport providers, night-time economy venues and business improvement districts.”

Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds will also see local projects, such as taxi and street marshals and women’s safety hubs. 

The ‘Safety of Women at Night Fund’ is provided by the government and is available for “interventions which focus on preventing violence against women and girls in public spaces at night.” 

The award coincides with statistics from a recent FOI that say that assaults at the 14,000 bus stops in the West Yorkshire area have fallen by 25% since 2017. 

A graph showing the results from a 2021 FOI regarding assaults at bus stops in West Yorkshire.

However, it’s unclear whether this good news is a result of safer streets in West Yorkshire, or fewer people using public transport.

The Department for Transport’s COVID-19 public transport statistics show that even after two years of the pandemic, bus use outside of London has not yet returned to its 2019 figures.

While bus use is rising again as restrictions ease, the unpredictability of the pandemic and ever changing work-from-home orders mean it is likely bus use will take more time to recover. 

A graph showing falling bus use, outside London, from the Department for Transport data.

Furthermore, before the COVID-19 pandemic West Yorkshire Combined Authority figures were showing a long term decline in bus use in the area. 

Documents from 2016 show that West Yorkshire Bus use was at just under 210 million journeys a year in 1997/98, but had fallen to just over 180 million in 2014/15. 

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