Metropolitan Police launch ‘walk and talk’ scheme with women to learn why they feel unsafe on London streets

·2-min read
 (Met Police)
(Met Police)

The Metropolitan Police will be shadowing women as they walk the streets of Lambeth and Southwark to learn how they feel unsafe.

The new “walk and talk” scheme will see 25 female neighbourhood officers buddying up with local women to walk the streets of south London and hear of their “experiences, concerns and reflections”, the Met announced on Wednesday morning.

Sgt Becky Perkins, who leads the initiative, said it would build trust with women who don’t feel completely safe walking London’s streets.

It comes in in the wake of serving officer Wayne Couzens admitting to the rape and killing of Sarah Everard.

She said: “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.

“No woman should feel unsafe walking the streets or taking public transport.”

Sarah Everard, 33, who disappeared on March 3 while walking home in Clapham, south London (PA Media)
Sarah Everard, 33, who disappeared on March 3 while walking home in Clapham, south London (PA Media)

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.”

Chf Supt Colin Wingrove, responsible for policing in Lambeth and Southwark, added: “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.”

It came months after ugly clashes between police and women marred a peaceful Sarah Everard vigil in a Clapham Common bandstand.

Sisters Uncut dismissed the “walk and talk” scheme as a “shallow and tokenistic PR stunt” from the Met.

A spokesperson told The Standard: “Female police officers still enact violence and uphold the broken structures that fail women every day, and by making it the ‘women’s’ problem we are once again being taught to blame the victim. It is all misdirection - we know the police don’t keep us safe.”

Cllr Anna Birley of Reclaim These Streets, the group that initially organised the vigil for Sarah Everard before pulling out, added: “A focus on listening to women’s experiences is to be welcomed – but walkabouts are not a silver bullet.

“Cressida Dick has not set out what action will be taken as a result of women’s feedback or what else the Met will be doing to improve. There needs to be a much deeper, more comprehensive overhaul to genuinely protect women, and improve the culture of the force she leads.”

Police made four arrests including three women, two of whom were in their teens at the Everard vigil.

Last month nearly 100 suspects were arrested on a single day of action cracking down on violence against women.

Ninety-nine suspects detained for offences including domestic assault and sexual offences were taken to various police stations.

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