24 January
Women and girls

The Supporting Women and Girls initiative aims to help women feel safer in West Lothian's public spaces and places.

The initiative will also:

  • Provide a way for women and girls in West Lothian to speak up about the public spaces and places where they feel unsafe
  • Highlight to men the role they can have in helping women and girls feel safer

The West Lothian Community Safety Partners (CSP) - which is made up of West Lothian Council, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Centre, Voluntary Organisations and the Health and Social Care Partnership - wanted to improve Women's Safety across West Lothian and was inspired following the death of Sarah Everard in London.  

Women and girls living in West Lothian are being encouraged to make the CSP aware of public spaces where they feel unsafe by using a new online form which can be found at: www.westlothian.gov.uk/womenandgirls

This may include practical concerns such as dark walkways or overgrown public paths where visibility is poor. The information will then be collated and appropriate action will be undertaken to make improvements where possible.

Executive councillor for Economy, Community Empowerment & Wealth Building, Kirsteen Sullivan said:

"It is unacceptable that any woman or girl doesn't feel safe when within a public space and small changes can make a big difference.

"This campaign is about safety of women and girls in public spaces and places, so it's about feeling safe when you are walking home, waiting for a taxi or walking the dog.

"We are encouraging women to speak up and tell us about the public spaces and places where they do not feel safe, and we are also encouraging men to think about how their behaviour in public places can make women feel.

"A really important part of this work is to highlight that we want to hear from women across West Lothian on the physical locations that cause them the most concern. That information will be important to enable us to identify what, if any, practical actions can be taken to improve how women feel when out within West Lothian."

Julie Whitelaw, Interim Head of Housing, Customers and Building Services added:

"Not all areas or issues are within our control because they may be located on private land or changes might not be practical and proportionate.

"For example, it's simply not possible to ensure every metre of path network or walkway can be completely lit, or that we can never have long grass or high hedges. However, we can make a big difference to many areas by introducing some practical changes within some public areas and spaces - and we will make improvements with the help of local women and girls providing us with the information we need."

Police Scotland's Inspector Brendan McMahon said:

"A key area of our work is ensuring men are aware of their role and their responsibility in women's safety. Not only in recognising negative behaviours that men can change, but also in taking responsibility in helping women feel safer. There are many ways in which men of all ages can do that.

"Gender based violence is rooted in gender inequality and abuse of powers and harmful 'norms'. By raising awareness through social media and encouraging community participation, we aim to: develop an opportunity for women to communicate to us, increase ongoing communication, highlight the main issues and identify the areas women and girls feel unsafe in.