With the safety of women in public spaces firmly in the national spotlight, MIKE OLLEY reveals that even the woman who caused criminal damage and hurled racist abuse at a Broad Street doorman was cared for when our Wardens realised she was alone, vulnerable and distressed.
Since the desperately sad kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of the disgusting specimen of life Wayne Couzens, the issue of women’s safety has been prominent.
Statistically the most vulnerable group in society is, in fact, men. Men do kill 94% of all murder victims. The good news (if you’re not a victim or the loved one of a victim) is that 93% of murder suspects get a conviction. But roughly three out of four murder victims are men. Indeed, by far the most vulnerable group is males aged 16-24. Most women are killed in the house whilst most men are killed in the street. Yet as an old pal of mine commented some years ago: “Get it right for woman and you get it right for everyone”.
We on Westside get a healthy mix of men and women – no surprise there! If anyone has read any pervious “Oracles” they will be aware that we pride ourselves in Westside in keeping it a safe place. We are currently working with the council to get it right for private hire taxis. With the new tram coming online this is a challenge – but one we will strive to get right. We need to drop people off and pick them up as close to their fun night out as possible. Not in some dingy ill-illuminated back street. Even feckless, lazy, repulsive criminals do their homework. It’s far easier to mug someone if it’s a distance from the bright lights.
We pride ourselves in providing a safe environment. Now that’s not just a sexy soundbite – we actually spend a lot of money on measures to keep people safe. That combination of money, experience and great working relationships with the police and other agencies, such as BrindleyPlace, pays keen dividends. Just as a swift audit of what we do, we have a team of Wardens who patrol Westside seemingly constantly and we have a great team of City Pastors (currently reorganising, but back soon). Add that to the other security teams at BrindleyPlace, Broadway Plaza and any number of concierge personal, with our army of door supervisors, it really is a safe haven. Yet onto that, add a radio link that we supply to most of our hospitality venues and street-level businesses, on top of social media instant communication platforms. We do exceptionally well.
Can I offer a hitherto unknown example of how well our system works for women? You may recall Sharna Walker? The 24-year-old woman who used offensive and racist language towards a doorman of ours? Massive national coverage. A real ten-minute celebrity for all the wrong reasons. Well, as it happens, on the night she had caused criminal damage and hurled vile racist abuse at our doorman, she stormed off into the night. Presumably, after her outbursts and wrecking-ball conduct, she was emotional. Perhaps she realised what a prize prune and generally offensive idiot she was? At this stage she lacked celebrity status. No-one had heard about her – how the next few hours would change her life! Yet she was around and alone on Broad Street.
One of our venue managers spotted her and he called out for assistance for a “lone, vulnerable female”. He did this on the radio link. Our Wardens swung into action and Sharna Walker was spotted and taken into their care. They thoughtfully escorted her back to her hotel room. She was constantly sobbing and clearly distressed. I’ve seen the video – it is a very painful sight.
Now, I am sure some would say we should have left her to rot, especially after what she did. Well, no. Even if we knew she was the nasty, racist piece of work that she turned out to be, we wouldn’t do that. We look after any vulnerable woman (and man) we find, no matter what their track record. It’s what we do and how we roll. It’s not perfect, but I can promise you that’s what we strive for – perfection. We seek to get it right for woman and thereby get it right for all.