Crime and safety at UK music festivals is a subject of growing concern for festival management, police and festival-goers, bolstered by increasing media coverage of incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. To date, however, there has been limited evidence regarding festival-goers’ experiences and perspectives concerning safety, particularly in relation to gender-based violence at music festivals. Using data from a mixed methods pilot study, this article presents the findings of a self-selecting survey of 450 festival-goers which asked respondents about their perceptions of safety and experiences of different crime and harms including gender-based violence at UK music festivals. The findings reveal that most respondents report feeling safe at festivals, but various personal, social and environmental factors may increase or reduce these feelings of safety, and these are gendered. Similarly, although experiences of acquisitive crime, hate crime and stalking were low and broadly similar for women and men, a third of women experienced sexual harassment and 8% experienced sexual assault – significantly higher than the reported levels among male respondents. We argue that festivals must work proactively with key stakeholders and agencies, as well as artists and patrons, to develop clear policies and initiatives to prevent sexual violence.
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