The Walk and Talk Scheme in UK

After the tragic murder of Sarah Everard on her walk home, the amount of fear in women has increased from the previously high level. 

The Situation

Sarah Everard, a 33 year old woman, was simply walking home from her friend’s house like always. She was making plans with her boyfriend like any other day. However, this day was different. The 50 minute walk through lit streets and safe directions did not change anything.

Wayne Couzens, a police officer, pled guilty for the rape, kidnapping, and murder of Sarah Everard. He was working with the London Metropolitan Police inclusive of foreign embassies and was even given a gun. Yet, it was this man in power, who swore to protect the people of this country who committed this heinous crime.

He could have used any methods to try and get her in the car, especially abusing his power. How can we feel safe on the streets when the ones committing the crimes are from the police force?

The Walk and Talk Scheme 

Labor MP for Croydon Central and Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Sarah Jones had accused that the government has been “ignoring violence against women.” She believed that it was necessary for the government to finally take action instead of the continuous discussions. 

Currently, the scheme is occurring in Lambeth and Southwark to hear personal accounts from women regarding their safety. This new scheme will include 25 female neighborhood officers to walk the streets of South London to ensure that women feel safe and hear their concerns. Sergeant Becky Perkins believes that this would be a step towards building trust with women who still do not feel safe walking the streets in London. 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 keeps women and girls safe. We agree. No woman should feel unsafe walking the streets or taking public transport.” This scheme was introduced months after police had interrupted the vigil of Sarah Everard. 

Women have again and again stated how unsafe they feel on the streets. They have to implement safety measures just for a simple walk home. How some pretend to be on a phone call, so no one comes up to them. How someone even pretends to know someone else to stop a man from following them. Miriam Wickham had even stated that she has not walked home at night in years

The Backlash

This scheme prioritizes women’s safety in their own neighborhoods. Devastating that this is even an issue that we need to still discuss. Yet, there still continues to be backlash. An organization – Sisters Uncut – believe that this is simply a PR measure to eradicate the fear in the streets. A spokesperson stated that “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.”  

We must note that instead of thinking of preventive measures against men – the actual attacker – we focus on women. They once again need to worry about their safety and using safety guideline in their daily life. Women have to always be aware and cautious of their surroundings. They cannot relax if they are simply walking home, and sometimes fret to even be walking by themselves. It can become exhausting adding yet another measure. Although one that seems doable in the short run, would not change the culture of the society. 

About The Author

Kashish Singh is a Psychology student at King’s College London. She has worked on multiple projects surrounding gender discrimination for the last 4 years and wants to continue to spread awareness within her community. Here is another interesting blog on the vaccine gap by Kashish

Blog Photo Credit: BBC