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Theatres are regarded as safer than most other licensed premises but Licensing SAVI can help them raise security to ‘an even higher level’

More than one in two adults want improved safety measures in theatres following recent national publicity around the safety of women and girls, a YouGov survey has found.

A total of 52% of adults want safety improvements in theatres with the largest call for improved safety coming from women at 56% - ten percentage points higher than men.

With safety defined as ‘where efforts have been made to prevent crime, reduce harm and where staff will support you if you are feeling vulnerable’, 5,050 adults in England aged 18-45, were asked whether they agreed with the statement that ‘recent publicity around the safety of women and girls has made it more important for licensed premises to improve their safety procedures’.

In response to this question, the research found that theatres faired the best – receiving the lowest call for improved safety when compared with other licensed premises in the survey, which included nightclubs, bars and pubs, restaurants, stadiums and arenas, hotels and guest houses, and sports and social clubs.

For example, 76% of adults responded saying they want improved safety in bars and pubs, and 79% in nightclubs. The call for safety improvements in the other licensed premises included in the survey ranged between 52-65% of adults.

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The survey, carried out between 16 August – 5 September 2021, also found that adults feel significantly less safe across all types of licensed premises included in the survey today than they did prior to the first national lockdown in March 2020. For example, the largest falls in feeling safe were in nightclubs – down from 81% pre-pandemic to 48% today and bars and clubs from 93% to 64%.

Again, among the licensed premises to have come out well were theatres with the second lowest fall in feeling safe pre-pandemic compared to today with a 19 percentage point drop to 78%. The type of licensed premises with the lowest percentage point fall in feeling safe were restaurants with a 17 percentage point drop to 81%.

The survey also revealed that 20% of respondents would have visited theatres more if they felt safer and 19% are more likely to have visited if it had been granted a Police Safety Award.

Relatively few people – 13% – research a theatre’s safety prior to visiting. However, 22% check out safety considerations once they have arrived.

Top of the list of safety features that influences the perceived safety of a theatre upon arrival are ‘clearly marked fire exits’ with 48% of respondents choosing this option. Next in order are general cleanliness and hygiene and the premises being well-lit both at 45%, control of door entry 40% followed by uniformed staff at 38%.

These safety feature priorities are broadly the same once inside and moving around the theatre. A total of 60% of respondents chose looking out for fire exits as the most important consideration, followed by cleanliness and hygiene at 44%, and checking staff are easily identifiable and that the venue is well-lit both at 43%.

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The survey was commissioned by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), a police-owned organisation, which works alongside the Police Service to deter and reduce crime.

One of Police CPI’s latest initiatives is Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI), which seeks to improve safety and security in licensed premises. Developed at the request of the Home Office, Licensing SAVI is being supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Project Servator, which seeks to deter terrorist attacks in public places.

Licensing SAVI brings together for the first time all the information that licensees need to meet the requirements of police and council licensing teams, comply with the Licensing Act 2003 and promote the four Licensing Objectives: Prevention of Public Nuisance, Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Protection of Children from Harm and Public Safety.

Available as an on-line self-assessment, it provides definitive information on effective management practices and operational security as well as some straightforward safety measures, many of which can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost. It leads to a star-rating and venues can apply for an award, which can be displayed at their premises showing the efforts undertaken to enhance safety and security.

Licensing SAVI is the first ever National Policing Award in England and Wales and commenced its national roll out in October to 300 venues in West Yorkshire – a move that is being funded by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership.

Mark Morgan, Business Manager for Licensing SAVI, and a former Police Superintendent, said: “There is a tremendous consistency in these results which show how important safety in licensed premises has become today for men and women – but particularly women.

“Having considered the YouGov survey results and spoken to those working within the theatre industry, I recognise that the perception of safety at theatres is better than in other types of licensed premises which is fantastic news and a reflection of the hard work already undertaken within the sector.

“However, I’m confident that the safety health check provided by Licensing SAVI would take safety and security at theatres to an even higher level, raising awareness of wider issues from a customers’ perspective and reinforcing key issues such as counter terrorism considerations in crowded places,” explained Mark.


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About Police CPI
Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI) is a police-owned, not-for-profit organisation which delivers a wide range of innovative and ground-breaking crime prevention and demand reduction initiatives to support the UK Police Service, Government and the public. Senior police officers control and direct the work Police CPI carries out on behalf of the Police Service.

Women’s Night Safety Charter
In March 2021, as part of its commitment to providing safer and more secure venues through Licensing SAVI, Police CPI signed up to the Women’s Night Safety Charter, which seeks to make London a place where women feel ‘confident and welcome’ at night. It means Police CPI will actively support the Charter’s seven pledges and encourage other businesses and organisations in the capital to join in to tackle violence against women.