Rugby council has vowed to take measures to tackle street harassment after a survey revealed that 60 per cent of Rugby's women and girls had experienced unwanted attention or harassment at some point in the last year.
In March, following the murder of Sarah Everard, women and girls across the country began sharing their own stories of harassment and abuse in the streets.
At the time, the Advertiser launched its own appeal for women and girls to come forward with their own accounts of street harassment.
Many women and girls were brave enough to share their accounts (see www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/news/crime/i-just-want-to-feel-safe-walking-down-my-street-rugby-women-share-accounts-of-harassment-and-sexual-assault-3172394) - the results were harrowing, with several accounts even coming from women who were children at the time of the incidents they reported.
Rugby council then launched a survey which gathered far more precise results, outlining the huge scale of the problem.
A spokesperson for Rugby council explained: " More than 700 girls and women aged 11 and older responded to the survey, with 3/5s of respondents saying that they had experienced unwanted attention or harassment in a public place in the last 12 months.
"Survey respondents gave in some cases detailed accounts of harassment, unwanted attention and sexual advances.
"Incidents took place at all times of day, with the most incidents reported between 2 and 4pm. Incidents also commonly occurred during the lunchtime and tea time periods of 12noon to 2pm and 6 to 8pm.
"Half of respondents told the council that they felt safe on their own in Rugby town centre.
"This figure rose to 85 per cent of respondents who said that they felt safe in the town centre when with female friends.
"57 per cent feel safe walking to and from their local shops, school or college or place of work."
Cllr Derek Poole, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Regulation and Safety, said: “I am incredibly grateful for the time and effort that women and girls put into completing this survey, and I would also like to thank partners such as Rugby College and the Hospital of St Cross who helped to distribute it.
“The accounts of harassment and unwanted attention that we have been given in this survey are shocking. It is clear that women and girls in Rugby have experienced some extremely unpleasant situations, and they are being subject to harassment and attention far more than we could have imagined.
“Any incident of harassment of women and girls is unacceptable, and what is clear from these results is that what many men may consider to be ‘banter’ is considered unwanted and threatening by women and girls. Men need to hear this and understand.
“These findings need to be acted on, so this issue will be a priority for the Rugby Community Safety Partnership.”
As well as becoming a Community Safety Partnership priority, Rugby council has taken immediate action to try to help.
Areas of the town highlighted as being places where women and girls feel unsafe have been passed to the council’s Community Wardens and the Rugby First Bid Rangers for increased awareness and patrols.
And the findings have also informed a bid for government funding to tackle the problem.
The council’s Regulatory Services teams have also started working with businesses across the town with a view to introduce a system where customers can ask for assistance if they feel threatened or unsafe.
The council said it will also work up a detailed action plan covering awareness, education, enforcement and relevant interventions, for further public consultation later in the year.
Cllr Poole added: “Rugby’s women and girls have been brave and incredibly helpful in taking part in our survey.
"I want them to feel reassured that we will continue to take this seriously, so I am very keen that they help us to finalise our action plan as soon as it is ready.”
A summary of the survey findings has been published at www.rugby.gov.uk/harassmentsurvey .