Reviewing personal safety measures on streets in England

2 August 2021

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation seeking evidence on how street design, maintenance and operation in England could be improved to ensure people feel safer from harassment, intimidation or unwanted sexual behaviour in public spaces.

This is intended to help designers create streets that put the needs of people first, particularly pedestrians and cyclists, with a view to personal safety rather than general road safety.

With full details available at GOV.UK, the deadline for submitting comments is 1 September 2021.

The DfT explained: “Streets are an essential part of people’s journeys, but it has become clear that many people, particularly women, feel unsafe using the street and experience harassment, intimidation or unwanted sexual behaviour in public spaces. This must be addressed if we are to make streets safe for everyone.”

The evidence it receives will be used during the current updating of the Manual for Streets (MfS) and Manual for Streets 2 (MfS 2), which provides an opportunity to understand design measures and approaches that may help streets feel safer.

MfS is aimed at any organisation or discipline with an interest in residential streets, ranging from access officers to the emergency services. MfS2 extends its recommendations beyond residential streets to encompass both urban and rural situations.

“MfS and MfS 2 already cover crime prevention within design,” the DfT said, “but we want to make sure we capture more specific evidence and knowledge that relates to personal safety.”

Taking account of harassment, intimidation and unwanted sexual behaviour, personal safety expands the remit of the manuals from road user safety, which generally refers to work to prevent road accidents and to risks created primarily by other traffic.