Helsingborg police dog handlers will start training in Pålsjö forest after a nationwide survey found more than half of women have been subjected to groping, molestation, and sexual harassment whilst out jogging.
“Harassment, not least of a sexual nature, today is so common that many women feel unsafe when they exercise,” acknowledges the police force in a post announcing the project.
Head of the force’s dog handlers, Thomas Anderberg, said a colleague brought the issue of women feeling unsafe while exercising to the unit’s attention, after seeing the survey of more than 1,200 female Swedish runners.
“So we decided to devote some of our time training the dogs to a project in which we’ll try to provide some protection to women on the jogging trail,” he told SVT.
“By doing this, we can create a safer environment for the women who run here. It’s important that these issues be taken seriously.”
The project will begin in mid-April when 14 officers, with and without police dogs, will jog through the woods dressed in yellow, high visibility police vests.
Anderberg told the Swedish public broadcaster he hopes more police will join up to the scheme, which at the end of summer will be temporarily halted for evaluation.
Helsingborg police statement on the project states:
Dog handlers will be finishing their scheduled training sessions with physical exercise in the form of running through Pålsjö forest. Handlers will run with or without a service dog, wearing yellow vests emblazoned with the word ‘POLICE’.
The main objective will be to increase the level of perceived safety of the persons who exercise in the recreational area of Pålsjö forest.
But with high visibility of both police personnel and vehicles, the project will also raise the level of actual safety, to keep away any would-be offenders.
From mid-April, you will be meeting police officers and police dogs in the Pålsjö forest. At all hours — See you out there!
It’s not the police’s first time increasing security through visibility in the forest. Three years ago officers ran through the woods when Pålsjö forest played host to a spate of incidents in which women reported being “groped from behind”, molested, and flashed at while out jogging.