New policies the council has laid out aim to promote safety for women who are out late at night in Reading.

The town centre is known as a popular destination for people to go out, which can pose a challenge to authorities who try to ensure that people are kept safe on nights out.

There is a particular concern around drink spiking targeting women, with the aim of making victims more vulnerable through greater intoxication.

In an attempt to enhance public safety, especially for women, leaders at Reading Borough Council have devised a series of safety initiatives aimed at encouraging best practice and ensuring close cooperation between late-night venues, the council, police and other partners.

Measures to improve safety in the future include:

  • Promoting Reading’s Women’s night-time safety charter and supporting the delivery of the WAVE Safer Sounds Partnership  training across licensed premises
  • ‘Night Angels’ – Security Standards Authority licensed door supervisors that patrol the town in the evening and night, and Street Pastors
  • The ‘First Stop’ service providing medical and other support during weekends and peak times eg. the Christmas & New Year periods
  • Safer Street 4 funding which is being used to improve night-time safety for people working and socialising in the town. This includes the establishment of a Safe Hub in the town centre, running community safety campaigns, working with bars, pubs and clubs, and promoting safe routes home for those enjoying the town at night
  • A Safer Students Partnership – bringing together the council, the University, Students’ Union (RUSU) and Reading College to address key safety issues for students (16-25 years old)

Creation of these safety initiatives and licensing measures aimed at keeping people safe were implemented at a council meeting.

Cllr Rowland: “This is underpinning the work we do as a council, local authority and the work we do with the police as a partner.

“We have every right to be proud of officers for focusing on this.”

Cllr Rowland did call for a wording change acknowledging that drink spiking is an issue on a national level.

However, she did add that the council and its partners are ‘doing what they can’ to prevent spiking, which can lead to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison according to

This wording change was agreed unanimously by councillors.

Reading Chronicle: Gun Street, a popular night spot in Reading town centre. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceGun Street, a popular night spot in Reading town centre. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Meanwhile, cllr Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) celebrated the accolades that the town’s ‘night time economy’ has won.

Cllr Page said: “Reading was recognised nationally for the quality of the Pubwatch scheme operated.”

Reading’s Pubwatch scheme won the National Pubwatch of the Year award in 2022.

Cllr Page said that members of Pubwatch met on Monday, September 25.

Reading received ‘Purple Flag’ accreditation again this year, which recognises excellence in managing the night-time economy such as bars and clubs.

He also welcomed news from James Tribe, a Thames Valley Police inspector that police shifts are due to change to provide better covering during the night.

The measures to make going out safer for women at night were formed as part of the council’s Statement of Licensing Policy, which has to be updated every five years.

Changes to the Statement of Licensing Policy for 2023-2028 were approved unanimously by the council’s licensing applications committee on Thursday, September 28.