An app which aims to help women and other vulnerable groups get home safely has introduced a unique new safety feature amid fears of rise in attacks during the World Cup.
The government-backed Path app will use crime statistics from the Home Office and Office for National Statistics (ONS), alongside data on street lighting, to plot the safest route home for its users, whether walking, cycling or travelling by public transport.
The app, which was created by software engineer Harry Mead after the death of Sarah Everard last March, gives users several route options after they have input their destination. Users can report hazards in real time to alert others to potential dangers.
It comes after ONS data revealed that sexual offences recorded by the police were at the highest level recorded within a 12-month period in the year ending June 2022. This marked a 21 per cent increase from the year ending March 2020.
The data raised concerns that the rise in sexual offences against women occurred during the European football championships last summer. There have been fears that a similar spike may take place during the World Cup, which is currently taking place.
Nimco Ali, head of the Five Foundation and the government’s independent adviser on tackling violence against women and girls, said: “It’s shocking, but not surprising, to see that offences like stalking and sexual offences increased to significantly during a major football event.
“Nobody should feel unsafe to travel alone, which is why I am proud to support Path.”
A new study published this week also found that domestic abuse soars by nearly 50 per cent after the England men’s football team win a World Cup game. Researchers at Warwick Business School revealed that abuse and violence by partners increased by 47 per cent on the day England won a World Cup or European Championship match.
Path’s new function is set to be rolled out next year. It follows the same model used by Waze, which relies on drivers to update other motorists of hazards on the road in real-time.
The community walking app will plot the safest routes for users based on real-time alerts sent in by others.
It already lets users share their location with friends and sends alerts to nominated “guardian” contacts if the user is not back in a certain amount of time. These emergency contacts will be able to see the user’s current journey details to help locate them.
Mead said in a statement: “Path is there to help people get home safe. Everyone should feel empowered to travel, especially during this football season, when more people will be out watching the football.
“Our new feature takes the worry out of choosing what the safest route is, providing safety graded options so users can choose what works best for them.”