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This what experts say we can do to actually make London feel safer for women

What the police can do, what the government can do and what everyone can do

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

When people talk about improving safety for women and gender non-conforming people, the same ideas are often batted around: rape alarms, phoning a friend while walking home, installing more street lighting or CCTV. The truth is, though, when you talk to experts about the issue, they’ll tell you that keeping safe shouldn’t be a personal responsibility and that it’s a process far more complicated to fix than just adding a few more light bulbs. In the wake of Sarah Everard’s death by a police offer and Sabina Nessa’s murder, and with conversations around improving safety in the capital louder than ever, Time Out spoke to five organisations about how London could – if ever – be made safer for women.


Sort out the culture of sexism in the police...  

‘The police need to urgently address the culture of sexism that exists [within the force], prioritise violence against women and girls to the same level as terrorism and utilise their funding to ensure that they tackle the issues of male violence towards women. They should also now embark on an urgent programme of restorative work to regain the confidence of women [in the force]. As it stands, a third (14 out of 43) of police forces have still not signed up to the Domestic Abuse Matters training, provided by the College of Policing, Women’s Aid and other organisations, but this training is vital in ensuring that all police staff are trained adequately to ensure that the right response is given first time to all women who have experienced violence and domestic abuse.’ Farah Nazeer, Women’s Aid. 

…be more strict about who can work for them...

‘No one should be able to become a member of our police force if they have a record of sexual assault or misconduct. The police are the people tasked with keeping us safe, the people we go to when we need to report a crime or disclosing personal information. They, therefore, cannot be the same people who are committing those crimes, to another woman in another place. If an officer already in the force has been accused of domestic violence, harassment, assault, or any kind of violence against women must be immediately suspended until a thorough and independent investigation has taken place.’ Ludo Orlando, Reclaim These Streets.

…and improve training for dealing with victims and survivors.

‘LGBTQ+ victims and survivors – including non-binary people and LGBTQ+ women – can be reluctant to go to the police, and four in five (81 percent) of LGBTQ+ people do not report hate incidents to the police. It’s essential that police forces are better trained to support women and non-binary people who are victims and survivors, offering real assistance rather than platitudes and insulting advice.’ Eloise Stonborough, Stonewall. 


Change who gets funding and power...

‘The government puts millions into prisons and underfunds refugee support, opens immigration detention centres not Rape Crisis centres, and is expanding police powers instead of funding mental health support. The Police, Crimes, Courts and Sentencing bill, currently going through parliament, represents a massive expansion of police powers. The police already use their powers to abuse and exploit women – they shouldn't be given more powers.’ Asha, Sisters Uncut. 

...and address misogyny from early on.

‘We need to address misogyny from the early years, starting with respect and consent classes in schools. If we want to address the epidemic of violence, we must help the next generations of boys and men be feminists who champion women’s right to walk unmolested and un-harassed in all public spaces.’ Ludo Orlando, Reclaim These Streets.


Understand how minority groups are treated...

‘The social codes which define who is “worthy” of sympathy often exclude trans people, sex workers working outdoors, or young people. For all these and many other people in communities historically targeted by the state, calling the police is simply not a safe option. We need to understand what happened to Sarah as part of this continuum: Stop and Search has been weaponised to terrorise Black and minoritised youth for decades, while having no impact on the serious youth violence it is purported to curb.’ Bryony Beynon and Kaila Stone, Good Night Out Campaign.  

...check in on your friends and challenge behaviours...

‘On a practical level, we see realistic and productive alternative safety approaches in action every time we make a choice to check in to see if someone is okay, to challenge dodgy behaviours or speak to a friend about something we feel uncomfortable with. These can and must be scaled up and replicated.’ Bryony Beynon and Kaila Stone, Good Night Out Campaign. 

...and keep the momentum going.

‘At a time where conversations around women and non-binary people’s safety are so prominent, we need to keep up the momentum in calling for institutional and societal change, and to call out abuse, harassment and violence against women and non-binary people.’ Eloise Stonborough, Stonewall.  

Women are calling on TfL to bring back the night tube.

Londoners on the things that could help make the tube feel safer.

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