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Female reporters carry alarms after town's sex attacks

Women reporters at the Weston & Somerset Mercury have been issued with personal attack alarms following a spate of sex attacks in the town.

The attacker has been linked to six incidents in Weston-super-Mare during the past few weeks and a massive police search has so far failed to track him down.

Some of the female staff have also taken up the offer of self defence classes in the town to better equip them for potential problems during the course of their work.

Reporters at the Mercury cover a wide urban, coastal and rural patch south-west of Bristol and like journalists everywhere, cover night jobs as part of their regular duties.

Editor Judi Kisiel said: “The man behind these attacks has not been caught and is thought to be local.

“He has not struck for about four weeks but all women reporters have these alarms.”

Sister Archant newspapers in East London and Essex have seen their staff attend personal safety seminars, with personal safety training now forming part of all induction training for the London/Essex centre.

The seminars, organised by head of training Jo Revitt, included a presentation, questionnaire and video produced by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. They covered three work-related scenarios where personal safety was compromised. They covered topics including reducing the risks, dealing with aggression, physical attack and using public transport. Staff were issued with personal safety cards at the end.

Jo said: “Suzy Lamplugh disappeared some 17 years ago during her everyday work as an estate agent – a sobering fact.

“Whilst we can only pray that such an incident won’t happen to any of us or to anyone we know, it is a fact of life that such incidents do occur.

“Risks at work don’t just happen at your desk or workspace. There may be risks when travelling to and from work – in connection with your work.

“Although as employers Archant must implement measures for the personal safety of its staff, we should remember that personal safety is a shared responsibility between employer and employee.”

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