An increasing number of nightlife safety schemes are being implemented across London as coronavirus restrictions ease. Owners of premises operating at night are being encouraged to participate in schemes such as “Ask for Angela”, a discreet way of asking staff for help.
Navigating nightlife may feel unfamiliar and risky to club-goers that have been out-of-practice for over a year now. Safety schemes will help thousands of new students experiencing London nightlife for the first time this freshers season.
“Is Angela working tonight?”
Ask for Angela unites Safer Sounds, an events safety partnership, with the Metropolitan Police. Their scheme melds a combination of organisations together to “help keep people safe while enjoying a night out”.
If people feel unsafe for any reason – like harassment or a misleading date – they can use the code-word “Angela” when speaking with staff (e.g. “Is Angela working tonight?”). Staff will discreetly assist the person to leave the situation, whether that’s waiting in a staff room for a friend or helping them into a taxi. The scheme’s information is usually displayed on the back of toilet doors.
To implement the scheme, venues must receive Welfare and Vulnerability engagement training to properly assist those needing help.
Ask for Angela has come a long way from its roots as a project in Lincolnshire in 2016. As part of the Lincolnshire County Council’s #NoMore initiative against sexual harassment, posters were similarly displayed on the back of women’s toilet doors advertising “Ask for Angela”.
The Bigger Picture Across London
The Mayor of London is committed to making nightlife safer for everyone and has paid particular attention to harassment against women. A YouGov poll revealed that 79% of women expect themselves or their friends to experience ”inappropriate comments, touching and behaviour” on nights out. To incorporate the city’s many organisations into a solution, the Women’s Night Safety Charter was created in 2019.
The charter is part of the global UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces initiative. Organisations that sign the charter pledge to “nominate a champion in [their]organisation who actively promotes women’s night safety” as well as train staff to record and respond to any reports of harassment. Over 600 venues across London have signed.
Good Night Out is another campaign dedicated to safer nightlife. They claim to have trained 2,641 workers in 185 nightlife spaces to better navigate cases of sexual harassment and assault. The campaign began in 2014 as part of Hollaback London, helping Fabric become the first nightclub with an anti-sexual harassment policy. 128 events, festivals, student unions and more are Good Night Out accredited across the UK.
Schemes similar to Ask for Angela have been implemented globally with discrete systems for victims of harassment. If you order an ‘angel shot’ in many US venues, staff will whisk you out of uncomfortable situations in a similar way.
“A Really Positive Step”
Increasing premises across London are cooperating with the push for nightlife safety. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors praised the Ask for Angela scheme: “As clubs re-open now, there have been over 350 venues that have had the training and about 500 to 600 staff which is a really positive step”.
According to the Metro, Connors emphasised the importance of the scheme in supporting victims of harassment and predatory behaviour on nights out. She stated the commitment of the Met Police in tackling violence and added “We want everyone to be safe anywhere in London and be able to go about their business without fear or feeling unsafe”.
Nightlife Safety Tips
Whether you’re going on a Tinder date or clubbing with friends, Crimestoppers has 7 tips for how to stay safe in the city at night.
These tips don’t excuse harassers or their behaviour, but sadly we must adapt and stay vigilant to keep ourselves safe.
- Stay in a group when possible – Stick with people you trust that can keep you company if you’re in trouble.
- Watch your drink – Everyone deserves to go out and have fun drinking, but people can take advantage if you’re not paying attention. Never lose sight of your drink.
- Call a taxi or lift – Getting public transport or a lift is worth the extra money if you can avoid being vulnerable by walking alone.
- If you must walk, stick to well-lit areas – Choose routes where people or CCTV will see you.
- Keep away from hostile situations – Get help from bouncers or the police, as intervening can escalate a situation.
- Book a taxi in advance – London cabs are the only taxis that can be hailed. Book a ride through an app like Uber and always double check the license plate and car model before travelling.
- Keep valuables hidden – There has been an increase in bike / moped muggings at night across London. Hide expensive possessions that could make you vulnerable to thieves.
It’s unfortunate that we must take measures to discourage attacks and harassment, but increasing nightlife safety schemes across London provide us with a support network. You can find more advice about keeping yourself safe from harassment and theft at the Metropolitan Police website here.