TODAY, Thames Valley Police has issued advice to people walking alone in the dark through Oxford.

The advice: don’t do it.

It comes after a man was robbed in South Park last night, at around 10pm, getting surrounded by a group of thugs who flashed a knife.

The ‘advice’, though obviously well-meaning, is completely unnecessary and frankly, out of touch, writes Oxford Mail's digital editor Fran Way. 

Most people, if they could, would avoid walking alone in the dark.

I, like most women, don’t need to be told about the dangers.

We already walk from street light to street light with our keys wedged between our fingers, cross the road when a figure in the dark is walking towards us, and look over our shoulder the entire time. Though putting it on paper might seem extreme, this is my experience.

When a woman goes missing, or worse, at night – it feels personal because we’ve all been scared of the night – we’ve all done ‘everything right’ by sticking to well-lit streets, wearing bright coloured clothes and avoiding walking alone – even if that tailing behind a stranger.

I can’t speak for men – I’m not one, but I’m not naïve enough to think they feel safe too.

So many times, I’ve reported on the Reclaiming the Night protests – and over and over again I’ve thought it shouldn’t be a hope or a dream to walk outside at night and feel safe.

Oxford Mail:

Yet here we are, our own police officers reminding us that we shouldn’t.

What if the police had flipped this and the same advice to us was given to criminals? “Don’t commit crimes at night.”  

It does seem utterly bonkers because what’s the point. So instead, there’s a curfew.

The ‘advice’ is to also keep to ‘busy, well-lit streets, walkways and paths’ which are ‘more likely’ to be covered by CCTV.

But here’s my question: what happens when there’s no cameras and I chose to go for a walk or run after I finished work? What happens if I live on a street that’s dark, and I live alone? Plenty of roads in Oxford City Centre are pitch black at night.

As I write this, the sun is setting – so this is probably my time to go.


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