The next phase of Chelmsford’s Safer Streets programme is shortly to begin with the installation of 12 new CCTV cameras in the Bunny Walks.
The cameras will be fitted with infrared technology, allowing the City Council’s CCTV operators to spot crime day and night. Staff and volunteers will regularly cut back undergrowth in the areas, while protecting habitats for wildlife, so the area feels more open and views are improved for the cameras.
The Bunny Walks are an important cycling and walking route between Broomfield, Springfield, the city centre and Anglia Ruskin University. The riverside paths wind through the Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve, are shaded by trees and are currently unlit.
CCTV is one part of a big project
Providing the new cameras is part of a programme of work to make this area of Chelmsford be and feel safer for everyone, particularly women and girls, who have told the city council that they do not feel comfortable there. Paid for by Home Office ‘Safer Streets’ funding, there are sixteen projects being carried out jointly by Chelmsford City Council, Essex Police, the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner and Essex County Council.
Councillor Rose Moore (above), Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, said, “The public outrage that followed the rape, abduction and murder of Sarah Everard last March cast a spotlight on the fact that so many women and girls feel unsafe walking alone. We want every area of Chelmsford to be accessible to everyone.
“Residents told us the Bunny Walks, while they are a beautiful and useful active travel route, didn’t feel safe. These new CCTV cameras and the lighting we’ve installed are part of fixing that, alongside longer-term work to stop people becoming perpetrators and to deal with the root issues of harmful sexual attitudes.”
What else is happening as part of Safer Streets?
As well as immediate measures like CCTV, nature trails to bring families to the area, community ‘days of action’, and lighting, many of the projects focus on education. Workshops on healthy relationships and consent are being held in schools and colleges.
A social media campaign on the impact of harassment on women and girls will be promoted locally. Adults who work with young people are being trained in spotting unhealthy sexual attitudes as they develop – and breaking the cycle. University students are helping to form other ideas to tackle the problem. Youth work is also being carried out to provide other things to do for young people hanging out in the area in groups, including football sessions with Chelmsford City FC.
Planning permission for the new cameras was granted on 8 February and work has begun on installing the cameras. To stay updated on the project, join the Safer Chelmsford Partnership mailing list.