Bradford is to become the world’s first WalkSafe city with the launch of a new initiative to help people make safe journeys on foot across the centre at any time of day or night.
The city’s Business Improvement District (BID) has teamed up with WalkSafe to become the first city anywhere to introduce a free phone app that gives users the power to be in control of their own safety.
It enables users to pick safer routes home as well as share them with family and friends so they can monitor their safe arrival, sending automatic alerts if they fail to reach their destination.
The WalkSafe+ app also shows the location of safe space premises and the live location of Street Angels and the Evening and Night Marshalls.
The app, which has already seen more than 700,000 downloads in the wake of the brutal murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021, was officially launched today (Tuesday) by Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, at The Light cinema, in Bradford.
Ms Lowe, who is also patron of Bradford at Night, said: “I am delighted to be at this launch today. The Mayor launched the Police and Crime Plan with an overall vision of a safe, just and inclusive West Yorkshire.
“We’re working together to keep women and girls safe in Bradford and across West Yorkshire.
“Violence is real, it happens and this app amplifies the voices of women.
“This app builds on the huge amount of work already done to help women and girls feel safe, and means we are a step closer to achieving that vision.
“The WalkSafe+ app is another great tool that people can use to help keep themselves safe. This is going to make Bradford an innovative trailblazer.”
The launch is being funded by Bradford BID and Bradford at Night with the support of a grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund, which aims to tackle violence against women and girls.
WalkSafe is the brainchild of 34-year-old Emma Kay who, as a daughter of a Metropolitan Police officer, was subject to many rules to keep her safe when out and about.
Despite this, she experienced catcalling, following, groping and flashing.
She said: “The birth of my daughter brought home the issue. I didn’t want this for her. Personal safety is a human right.
“We at WalkSafe are delighted to be a part of this Bradford BID safety initiative posting safe space premises on our map and the live location of Bradford’s Street Angels.
“WalkSafe is the most downloaded UK personal safety app and in the coming months we will be featuring more safe spaces, Street Angels and highlighting poorly-lit streets on our safety map in addition to our HomeSafe and Get Me Home features.
“We’d like to reassure people in the city centre where the safe places are and this app encourages people to think about their safety.
“As the first WalkSafe city, Bradford will pave the way for other cities and people can follow in Bradford’s footsteps.”
Bradford BID manager Jonny Noble said: “Bradford is no worse than any UK city when it comes to safety but we want a situation where everyone – and, especially, women and girls – feel safe to walk through the city on their way to and from work, shopping or socialising at any time of day.
“WalkSafe is a brilliant tool to help us achieve that and we’re proud and thrilled to be working with its creators to establish Bradford as the first WalkSafe city in the world.
“There is no excuse for any woman or girl to suffer harassment, let alone violence or sexual assault, and we want Bradford to be known as a place where everyone knows that the safety of all who live work and spend their leisure time here is paramount.”
Elizabeth Murphy, director and evening and night-time co-ordinator of Bradford At Night, said: “This is brilliant for Bradford, particularly with it being a world first.
“The launch of this app showcases Bradford as a safe place to come.
“We’re doing everything we can to change perceptions of Bradford and its venues.”
Simon James, director of Bradford At Night and landlord of the Crafted pub on North Parade, added: “This is something that Bradford needs. People need to feel safe.”