Six months on from Sarah Everard, what's changed for women's safety?
The death of Sarah Everard has started conversations that will undoubtedly save lives
The safety of women and girls and discussions around violence and harassment have not stopped since the death of Sarah Everard six months ago.
The 33-year-old was kidnapped and murdered as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham on March 3. Her body was found a week later in woodland near Ashford, Kent.
The murder shocked the nation, and we noticed how normal being afraid had become. We often ask friends to text us when they get home, or we remind people when it will get dark. Women and girls started to consciously talk about their safety and how vulnerable it feels to be alone in the street at night.
Some women carry an attack alarm, others carry their keys in case they need weapons – the vulnerability of women is a very real issue.
On social media, we are given tips on how to be safe. We are told to avoid dark streets, tuck our hair in our coats, send our location to friends – and for the first time we started to ask, is this the solution? Don’t we need to make serious culture changes?
The public demanded support and the Government created the Safer Streets Fund. Initially it was £22m, but this was doubled to £45m. The funding was made for Police and Crime Commissioners as well as local authorities to use for projects aimed at preventing violence against women and girls in public spaces at night.
Just this week, a new website has been launched called Street Safe. It's a map where you can drop a pin somewhere you want the police to take a look at, you can report anything from crime to a street light that you just you don't feel is working properly.
If you want better lighting or you want a warden, you can identify these things. It doesn't have to be a crime and police will go and take a look at it. In addition, over the last six months, police forces like Durham Constabulary have carried out surveys asking what they can do to make women feel safer.
Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner put a bid in for £500,000 after a consultation with women showed that 60% were uncomfortable using local transport at night.
The bid was backed by all local councils and local transport operators like Nexus, Stagecoach and Arriva. It has not been accepted yes, but Kim McGuinness is hopeful.
The death of Sarah Everard started conversations that will undoubtedly save lives.