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The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has today shared the results of a West Midlands survey by YouGov. The findings paint a picture of how people in the region feel about ‘stepping in’ when they witness unacceptable male behaviours in friends, colleagues or strangers – and who they believe people are most likely to listen to in such instances.

The results coincide with the launch of the second phase of the Here and Now campaign that began in April, asking all men and boys in the West Midlands to have important conversations with their peers about male violence against women and girls.

The research saw 2,018 adults surveyed online between May 6th and 11th.

26% of survey respondents said that they had called out a male friend or colleague about their behaviour towards a female, whereas 63% said that they had not. Of each of the age demographics sampled, the over-55 respondents were least likely (23%) to have intervened at any point.

However, when specifically asked about particular behaviours (e.g. verbal harassment, physical harassment, stalking), the majority felt that they would be confident in talking to a male friend or colleague – with over half of respondents saying that they would do so. Only 7% believed that they would not feel comfortable intervening in any situation.

Female respondents were more likely to say that they would call out verbal sexual harassment or misogynistic comments when coming from a male friend or colleague, whereas for all other behaviours it was male respondents who said they felt more comfortable.

The survey asked the same question about perceived comfort in challenging certain behaviours in a male stranger. Not surprisingly, more (21%) felt as though there would be no situation in which they would feel comfortable. That said, the two behaviours in strangers that people felt least comfortable in intervening with were verbal sexual harassment (e.g. cat-calling) and misogynistic comments. Respondents were more likely to step in when witnessing more physical forms of sexual abuse and violence.

The poll also explored who respondents thought that people may listen to when it comes to changing their own abusive actions and behaviours.

People were most likely to cite ‘Friends’ (34%), followed by family members (26%). Government/government officials scored a lowly 3%.

The West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner, Nicky Brennan, said: “In the last twelve months we’ve made a concerted effort to engage people, particularly men, in the importance of speaking up about male violence against women and girls. There’s some fascinating data in this poll and we’re keen to have the insight inform what we do in the years to come.”

“What’s clear, though, is that conversations between peers and family members remains the most direct pathway to behavioural change. A simple conversation with your friends, colleagues and family members can help them to understand how certain behaviours and actions can make women feel uncomfortable and scared. Change is so urgently needed, and that’s why we’re encouraging men to take the time to talk – here, and now.”

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “Violence against women and girls is not and never should be seen by anyone as ‘normal’. Combatting violence against women and girls is a top priority. We’re calling on all men in the region to have more open conversations about the part that they need to play in challenging and changing one another, and in talking with their peers about actions and behaviours.”

“Some of the insight we’ve had has been really helpful in understanding some of the obstacles that people face in having these conversations, or in calling out unacceptable behaviour when they see it. For example, we want to know how to bridge the gap between the vast majority of respondents who feel as though they’d be comfortable challenging a male friend or colleague on their behaviour towards a woman, and the reality that only a quarter said they have done so. There’s work to be done here in giving people the confidence to step up and play their part.”

The Here and Now campaign began with three videos that have been shared across the region and used in training sessions. Now, the campaign is introducing digital billboards and a trio of audio adverts that urge men to think about the places that they have conversations and the role they can play in influencing their peers.

The messages form part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s wider Safer Streets campaign, which includes police operations to spot and deal with potential male perpetrators, tailored education for young men on respecting women and girls, and work with partners to make practical improvements based on direct feedback from women.

Alongside the work on changing behaviours and having a proactive policing response to violence against women and girls, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner offers a wide range of support services to victims.

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