A campaign to make Hackney's nightlife safer is credited with driving down sexual offences in the borough by 36.5%.

The total number of sexual offences in Hackney has fallen from 104 in June 2022 to 61 in September 2023, after huge growth in activity supporting nightlife venues as part of the Hackney Nights campaign.

The campaign trains staff in welfare vulnerability, violence against women and awareness of drink spiking.

It also provides drink-safety signs, a step-by-step guide of what to do if there are incidents, as well as having two dedicated medical professionals, weekly briefings and radio between venues’ security teams.

“We’ve singlehandedly trained over 2,500 venue staff across 450 venues in Hackney, entirely for free,” said Samantha Mathys, who leads the campaign, which was launched by Hackney Council in 2019.

“As a result, incidents within these establishments have massively reduced.”

The night-time economy of the borough has massively expanded over the past decade, with Hackney’s night-out index, calculated by Public First, increasing by 76% between 2012 and 2022.

Ms Mathys said: “Hackney has a lively and ever-changing night-time economy. But with higher footfall comes higher risk. People know when they’re going out, they could be targeted.”

This has been reflected in wards such as party-hotspot Shoreditch and Hoxton suffering 76 violent and sexual offences between October 2022 and September 2023, double the borough average of 38.

Hackney Gazette: Hackney Nights is holding an event about sexual harassment and misogynistic crime as part of its bid to make the borough saferHackney Nights is holding an event about sexual harassment and misogynistic crime as part of its bid to make the borough safer (Image: Harry Torrance)

Many venues take extra steps to become accredited by the council initiative, and are rewarded with a 30% deduction from the late-night levy that funds the programme if they do.

Adam Poppel, senior general manager at Oslo Bar, Hackney Central, believes this gives operators an incentive to sign up.

He said: “The scheme helps everyone to step up. A lot of the training has been in the prevention of incidents, and I’ve got no doubt the decline in incidents is partly down to the Hackney Nights program.

“Hackney is unique in ensuring bars maintain such high safety standards.”

Hackney Nights will be hosting a Don’t Cross the Line event focusing on sexual harassment and misogynist behaviour on December 1 and 2 for venue-workers and customers to see the work and training they provide. Visit https://dontcrosstheline.uk/ for information.