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There must be zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment in Belfast, says McReynolds

Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has highlighted that often sexual harassment goes unreported, bringing a motion to Belfast City Council urging the implementation of the Zero Tolerance project.

If given the go-ahead at committee level, the motion will seek to introduce a scheme in Belfast that brings together the Council, local universities, the hospitality sector and the PSNI in an umbrella organisation aimed at tackling sexual harassment in pubs and clubs.

Peter - a Councillor for East Belfast - said he was inspired to put the motion forward after seeing the great success of a similar project in Canterbury and Medway Councils in England.

He added: "There success has been achieved through providing annual training and accreditations for pubs and clubs, which has empowered them to intervene quickly and effectively to stop sexual harassment. In turn, this has made customers feel more comfortable in coming forward on a night out therefore increasing retention/satisfaction rates, made staff more confident, and overall, has contributed to public safety and security in the areas.

I want to see a similar scheme introduced here in Belfast given that our hospitality sector is continuing to grow with new pubs and clubs appearing regularly alongside a steady increase in students.

This project could contribute towards ensuring that we have an environment that is safe and respectful, and does not reward those who think that a joke or a grope is appropriate just because alcohol is involved in a crowded, loud or dark environment.

"And with a recent survey of 3,097 students at Queen's University highlighting over 35% of responders had experienced some form of unwanted advance, it's clear we have work to do."