South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck calls for more to be done to protect women following death of Sarah Everard

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says more needs to be done to protect women as the Government announces new safety measures following the ‘heartbreaking’ death of Sarah Everard.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 3:42 pm

Downing Street has said it was taking a series of ‘immediate steps’ aimed at improving safety for women and girls after the death of Sarah Everard.

Among them is to roll-out across the country pilots of a programme, dubbed ‘Project Vigilant,’ that would see uniformed and plain clothes officers attending areas around clubs and bars undercover, to identify predatory and suspicious offenders in the night time economy.

But South Shields Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck says the focus should be on the safety of women ‘out in public spaces on their own’ and doesn’t feel like measures are going far enough.

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"It’s not necessarily in the night time economy where people are not safe, it’s when they are on their own,” she said.

"In those environments you have bouncers to go to and you have friends with you to help you.

"The [Government] should be focusing more on issues around safety of women out in public spaces on their own.

"Anything that can help will be great but I don’t think the focus should be on plain clothed officers out in the night time economy, I just can’t see how that would work.”

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

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Other steps unveiled by the Government include a doubling of the Safer Streets fund – which provides neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV – to £45million.

But Mrs Lewell-Buck says ‘a decade of Tory cuts’ has caused a problem where women feel unsafe because their local areas are not well-lit.

"The reason why they are having to talk about investing in street lighting and CCTV is because for the last decade they have cut money for those things,” she said.

"There are some local authorities that don’t have the street lights on at certain times of night when it’s dark."

The MP said people need to see that the law is working to protect women with tougher sentences for offenders to help aid cultural change.

Mr Lewell-Buck said: "Whilst legislation isn’t always the answer it does help aid cultural change.

“I am in my 40s and my whole life I have always been scared to be out in the dark, so it’s not something that is going to happen quickly.

"If people start to see that the law is working to help and protect women as opposed to working against them as it does at the moment then we might start to see some changes.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck paid tribute to Sarah Everard, 33, whose body was found in woodland in Kent last week.

She said: “What happened to Sarah is going to stay with everybody for a very long time.

“It’s heartbreaking and I think the change must come now because of this.

“The outpouring of women's stories and the things that have happened to them and the pain that women in this country are feeling on so many different levels, there has to be change now.”

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