Safer transport Northumbria App downloaded only 1000 times in first month

Written by on 14th April 2022

Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness. Image – Northumbria PCC

A ‘must-have’ app designed to make public transport safer was downloaded only 1,000 times in its first month of being available.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness’ Safer Transport Northumbria app has cost taxpayers nearly £8,000 so far and was downloaded just 1,028 times in its first month on app stores, according to exclusive new figures revealed by Spark News.

The free app, developed by the PCCs’ office alongside Rape Crisis Tyneside, Northumbria Police and travel operators, has been advertised as ‘the end of the line for unwanted sexual behaviour’ and ‘the answer’ to making people feel safer on the region’s public transport.

But figures obtained through a Freedom of Information Request by Spark News show the app was downloaded just 613 times on iOS and 415 times on Android devices, and is expected to cost another £12,000 over the next two years.

This £20,000 price tag only covers the cost of the app and does not include any advertising spending, after the PCC launched an extensive campaign to promote the app with radio ads and posters on the public transport network.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness told Spark: “Making women feel safer on our public transport is a top priority for me. 

“There is nowhere near enough money being spent on women’s safety and the cost of the app is just a drop in the ocean compared to the money that should be invested in this. 

“The more people who get on board with safety initiatives like this, the safer transport becomes for everyone.”

The PCC’s office does not currently know how many reports of information have been received from users of the app since its launch.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said: “We welcome this initiative which very much builds on our ongoing work with partners to ensure people are both safe, and importantly feel safe, during their journeys.

“We hope it will encourage people to report their concerns and continue to look out for one another – if something doesn’t feel or look right we want to know so we can take positive action.”

The mobile app was launched on 10 December, 2021 as part of the PCC’s ongoing ‘Safer Streets’ commitment to tackle violence against women and girls and improve safety on public transport.

There were 4,456 sexual offences recorded by Northumbria police in the year ending September 2021, according to official statistics.

The new app recently came under criticism from social media users. One Facebook user commented: “An app!? Just ring 999 if it’s urgent or 101 if not and you can speak to a person. Put a couple more cops on the streets.” 

While some were more supportive of the app, as another Facebook user added: “I think it’s a great idea as a single woman. It’s discreet and effective.”

Kim McGuinness was re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police with 60% of the vote in 2021, after the elections were delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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