Six months after Sarah Everard's murder, what's changed?

Plus, why you can't spell 'nepotism' without NT and so long to all the goldfish

On March 3 Sarah Everard was kidnapped off the streets and murdered by Met PC Wayne Couzens. Six months later, after numerous vigils, protests, reports and policies, have things changed for the better?

Not if you ask women.

Grazia magazine just conducted a big piece of research in partnership with GoFundMe, as part of their #IWalkWithWomen initiative, and 48% of the women they spoke to said they feel less safe when out alone. Four out five women also said they still don’t feel safe walking home on their own after a night out:

“In the last six months, half have chosen to stick to walking along main roads only and 48% have felt worried about someone walking behind them. Moreover, 38% put their phone away so they’re not distracted, a third (34%) always walk home with a friend and 15% have learned self-defence.”

And who can blame them? Last month, the number of women killed by men in the UK this year reached the 100 mark. Karen Ingala Smith’s Counting Dead Women project, which lists women who “have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect)” added the hundredth woman to its list a couple of weeks ago, around the same time that it was reported that sex offences in London had hit a new decade high.

London’s sex offence numbers have only surpassed the 2,000 mark once in the last ten years (in July 2018), but in June this year there were 2,265 offences registered by the Met. In July there were 2,120 and March saw 2,116.

According to the Met, there’s a silver lining here:

“The increase in offences is a positive indicator of victim confidence in reporting. There has been a lot of media coverage in the period of February to April around the murder of Sarah Everard and the subsequent vigil in which violence against women and girls offences were high profile in the media… The spike should be seen in a positive light as it shows an increase in public trust and confidence as a result of proactive media to address the high profile publicity at that time.”

That ‘positive light’ dims a little when you remember that in March it was reported that only one in twenty rape allegations in London leads to a suspect being charged.

Maybe a website will help?

At the end of last week an ‘anonymous online hotline’ called StreetSafe was announced, to “enable members of the public to anonymously drop a pin onto a map and describe factors that cause them concern, including behavioural or environmental reasons why they felt unsafe.”

The data will be used as part of a three-month pilot to “help police forces make decisions on how to keep communities safe” (like installing CCTV and adding more street lighting). But when the site was announced the End Violence Against Women Coalition put out a statement saying that the tool would be unlikely to do anything to reduce violence against women and would probably have a detrimental effect on Black and minoritised communities:

(N.B. There is already an app that allows people to report incidents in, or plan a safe route through London, it’s called Safe & The City).

Getting to the root cause

Something that can tackle the causes of violence against women and girls is education of men and boys. That point that was stressed repeatedly on Thursday when ITV News interviewed the Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins and Jamie Klinger, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets (who we spoke to back in May).

Reclaim These Streets are currently working with the political education organisation Shout Out UK to have conversations in schools on subjects like consent, gender and sexual harassment. But they need help and they’re currently looking for facilitators. If you want to help out, the information is here:

The aftermath of the vigil

Of course, it was Reclaim These Streets who originally organised the vigil for Everard back in March. Last month it was revealed that no minutes were taken during a series of key meetings held by police chiefs in the days and hours running up to that event.

An investigation by openDemocracy found that multiple phone calls and meetings between the National Police Chiefs’ Council, chief constables and the policing minister were not minuted.

OpenDemocracy also reported on a Met police memo that claims the vigil only got out of hand when it was “hijacked by activists”:

In a report seen by openDemocracy, which the Met sent to the government, the force claims the event “moved from a vigil to a rally” when women linked to the feminist group Sisters Uncut “took over the bandstand area”.

Responding to the report, Sisters Uncut said this was “devastating, upsetting, blood-boiling stuff from the Met, drenched in hypocrisy and self-preservation”.

Finally, a reminder that Reclaim These Streets are currently preparing to go to the High Court to defendour right to protest”. They raised over £20,000 earlier this year and in July, announced that the High Court has granted permission for their case to proceed, which means there will be a full hearing.

And the rest…

  • Structural engineering experts hired by the government have “unambiguously and unanimously” advised the government that Grenfell Tower should be “carefully taken down” as it “poses a risk to the local community” including a nearby secondary school.

  • While survivors of Grenfell and families of the victims have accused the government of breaking their promise that no decision would be made on the future of the tower without full consultation with them.

  • Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station tube stations will both open on September 20. There’ll be six trains an hour to begin with, going up to 12 an hour in 2022. These are the first stations to be added to the Northern Line since Morden opened in 1926 and they take the Underground’s number of south London stations above 30 for the first time. 

  • A senior Met officer has said that stop and search should not be targeted ‘equally’ because 70% of teenage homicide victims are black. “The data shows that violence and murder are disproportionate and it would be wrong for us to use stop and search equally across London,” Commander Alex Murray told the Standard.

  • The artistic director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris just employed his wife, Tanya Ronder, to write Hex, the NT’s new musical based on Sleeping Beauty. As you might imagine, some people have taken umbrage at the announcement, calling it “blatant nepotism” and “deeply depressing”.

  • Luxury London has taken a look at the new Gucci suite at The Savoy. Apparently Guccio Gucci “was inspired by the guests he encountered while working at The Savoy as a luggage porter and lift boy” and now the The Savoy’s Royal Suite has been kitted out with “furniture, furnishings, and decorative items from the Gucci Décor collection” as well as art and antiquities from Christie’s.

  • The eight films set to play in official competition at the BFI London Film Festival 2021 have been announced (ahead of a full line-up announcement due tomorrow). The Official Competition selection includes Belle, the latest animated work by Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda; Harry Wootliff’s  True Things which stars Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke; and Paolo Sorrentino’s “tale of destiny and family, of sport and cinema, love and loss” Hand of God.

  • The FT reports on the “DJs playing at ‘return to work’ celebrations, £1,000 bonuses, yoga classes and free meals” that companies are laying on to try and tempt staff back to the office (paywall alert).

  • A cross-party call has been made by the London Assembly for an end to the practice of awarding live animals such as goldfish as prizes at funfairs. The RSPCA has reported that the “goldfish are often held in unsuitable plastic bags and die before their new owners get them home”.