Police Now officer tackling violence against women in Birmingham
Friday 25th November 2022
Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Friday 25th November).
Police Constable Rosie Rowe, who joined West Midlands Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, has been working with the University of Birmingham and her policing colleagues to improve women’s safety on campus and in the city and send a clear message that violence against women will not be tolerated.
PC Rowe, who is stationed on the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Policing Team, joined a small, existing team of officers dedicated to safeguarding students at the University of Birmingham. She joined last summer as the first woman on the team, which consists of another hard-working Police Constable and two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Rosie spoke to students to gather feedback and understand their priorities and has been leading a project to create safe walking routes from the city centre back to campus. Working alongside the force’s drone team, she mapped out the safest routes back to campus and has been communicating these with students. They include routes with good street lighting and CCTV cameras, and she is working to get several trees cut back for better visibility along the routes. Rosie has also worked with the council to get ‘footprints’ placed along the routes, to guide students along the safest paths.
Rosie and her colleagues have also been promoting the ‘Ask Angela’ initiative with local bars and restaurants across Edgbaston, including on-campus facilities, to empower communities to stand up to abusive or inappropriate behaviour together and provide support to women who feel unsafe. The initiative means that people who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. The code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help, and a trained member of staff will assist them – whether through uniting them with friends, calling a taxi, or contacting venue security or the police.
PC Rosie Rowe said: “Bars and restaurants across Edgbaston have been very receptive and keen to promote the ‘Ask Angela’ initiative. It’s a great example of communities coming together to safeguard and protect one another, and support the work that police are already doing to keep people safe.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe when they’re travelling home. We have officers on our late shifts patrolling the new safe walking routes to deter any potential offenders and to check in on anyone who is alone or looks vulnerable, to ensure they get home safely.
“We are also working with taxi companies in the area to implement dedicated taxi zones on campus. This means students will be able to meet taxi drivers in safe spaces, and it helps us better ensure that only licensed taxi drivers are operating on campus.
“This is an ongoing project, as every year new students will join the university and we will begin raising awareness again of the safety measures put in place to protect them. We have also been meeting with bar staff and security staff at the university to update them on our work and deliver safety training.
“West Midlands Police is a ‘White Ribbon’ organisation, and myself and my three colleagues on the dedicated university policing team are all ‘White Ribbon’ ambassadors. This means we have committed to never excuse or remain silent about male violence against women, and it is something we are all passionate about promoting and enforcing. We are very lucky to be working with some fantastic colleagues at the University of Birmingham, who are equally passionate about keeping their students and women safe, and they have been instrumental in supporting our work.
“Before I joined the force, I was working in M&S. Police Now’s programme gave me the push I needed to finally apply for the police; I liked the one-to-one support that the programme offered, and it has allowed me to embed myself within the community as a neighbourhood police officer. Being a neighbourhood police officer means I am out in the community every day – improving safety, tackling crime, and making a positive impact alongside my colleagues.”
Rosie and her three colleagues on the dedicated university policing team were shortlisted in the force’s annual ‘Diamond Awards’ for the team’s work to improve women’s safety and speak out against male violence against women. The awards recognise officers, staff and members of the public who have gone above and beyond to make the West Midlands a safer place.