Men behaving in a predatory manner around women and girls are being targeted by Devon and Cornwall police in an initiative to prevent sex attacks and other crimes.

Project NightEye aims to keep women safe during nights out by identifying men acting suspiciously and intervening to stop their behaviour escalating into an offence.

It is already being used in some parts of the force area, and police want to hear about other locations – including parts of East Devon – where women have felt threatened by predatory or aggressive men.

Examples of this could be groups or individual men, on foot or in vehicles, loitering for no reason; men making unwanted approaches to women, trying to isolate them from their friends on a night out or making sexual comments.

Under Project NightEye local police officers work with partners such as venue and security staff to identify and target potential offenders. CCTV operators have also been trained to spot predatory sexual behaviour.

One part of the scheme is Project Vigilant, in which specially trained officers (either in plain clothes or uniform) patrol outside bars and clubs where potential problems have been reported. There will be a deployment of Project Vigilant at Colyton Carnival on September 9; not in response to a specific threat at the event, but to make sure women and girls are safe.

Police are now looking for other locations or events where Project NightEye could help prevent crime. Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker said: “Everyone can help make public spaces safer by reporting suspicious or unacceptable behaviour to the police, so if you see something that doesn’t look right or makes you feel uncomfortable, please let us know through our online reporting forms, or submit anonymously though Crimestoppers. This helps Devon & Cornwall Police to target where and when Project NightEye is used.”

Police are also urging people to use the StreetSafe app, available for both iPhone and Android devices, enabling anyone to anonymously report public places where they have felt unsafe for any reason, such as being followed or verbally abused. Officers can use this information to decide where best to deploy their resources.

T/ACC Parker added: “With police, partners and the public working together, it is imperative that we call out, target and robustly manage criminal offending that disproportionately affects women and girls.

“Project NightEye sends out a clear message to predatory men that their behaviour will not be tolerated.  Anyone out at night should be confident that Devon & Cornwall Police is targeting those who choose to harass or assault women or girls, and also men or boys.”