A new ‘walk and talk’ initiative has been launched in Southwark and Lambeth in a bid to make women feel safer on the streets.
Twenty five female neighbourhood officers are buddying up with women from within the community to walk the streets and hear of their experiences and concerns.
Those taking part will be able to discuss with police any locations in which they feel vulnerable and patrols will take place at times when there are fewer people, less traffic and light so officers can ‘get a real sense of what their worries are’.
According to the Met, last month there was an intense day of action cracking down on violence against women which saw 117 people arrested in a series of ‘reactive and proactive’ arrests for offences including domestic assault, sexual offences, and violence against women and girls.
The Met has also established specialist Predatory Offender Units to arrest and charge those who carry out violence, based in every Borough Command Unit across London.
In the last few months, many women have been sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on the streets in the wake of the disappearance of Sarah Everard.
Sergeant Becky Perkins, Central South Neighbourhoods Team and who leads the initiative, said:“The walk and talk initiative is just one of the many things going on across London to crack down on violence against women and girls.
“We want the women in our area to feel confident and safe on our streets and we hope that by walking with them on their usual routes and hearing from them first-hand what their concerns are we will be able to act and build trust.
“We know there are many women out there who don’t feel completely safe walking London’s streets and we want those women to know we are here for you, we are listening and we are doing all we can to make the streets safer.
“Recent events have heightened concerns around violence amongst women in London, and the Met understands and shares those concerns.
“We appreciate and acknowledge public concern and anger, and the desire for action to be taken which keeps women and girls safe. We agree.
“I’d like to thank all of the women who have come forward to take part in this walk. It is important for us to know what your concerns are so we can do everything we can to resolve them.
“No woman should feel unsafe walking the streets or taking public transport. Working closely with our communities is a vital part of what we do, we hope this new initiative will help to make women feel safer in our area and beyond in London.”
Walk and Talk participant Miriam Wickham said: “It’s good to know that the Met is trying to listen to the public, make changes and really see how women feel.”
Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, responsible for policing in Lambeth and Southwark, added: “All women have a right to feel safe.
“By connecting local women to local female police officers through the “Walk and Talk” initiative we can improve our understanding of the experiences of local women and take the rights steps to improve women’s safety.
“It is one of many initiatives, and we are working closely with our partners, community groups, and businesses to tackle violence against women and girls.
“No violence or harassment of women is acceptable, we will take it seriously, and together we can make London a safer place for all women.”
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