Sarah Everard: What can be done in Lowestoft to protect women

sarah everard

Sarah Everard was murdered by Wayne Couzens. - Credit: PA

The murder of Sarah Everard prompted many conversations about the safety of women on our streets.

The 33-year-old was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, who was sentenced to life in prison last month.

Across our region, Norfolk and Suffolk Police have said women stopped by plain clothes officers should challenge their legitimacy if they feel unsafe.

But what can be done to help women feel safe here in Lowestoft?

emma ratzer

CEO of Access Community Trust Emma Ratzer. - Credit: Julian Claxton

Emma Ratzer, CEO of Waveney-based charity Access Community Trust, said it was simple changes which could be made on our streets to help women feel safe.

She said: "Basic things could be done such as making sure street lighting works to make sure women and vulnerable people feel safe out on our streets.

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"Lowestoft itself has not had a massive problem in the past with women's safety because there is not a huge nightlife culture here.

"However, people like myself find it intimidating when large groups of people gather together at night.

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"A greater uniformed police presence would help to tackle this.

"I think the murder of Sarah Everard has opened up a conversation where we now need to review the safety of not only women but other vulnerable people as well.

"Understanding and asking the women of Lowestoft what they want to see change and to capitalise on this moment is what is needed next."

priti patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel has launched the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy. - Credit: Phil Morley

At a national level, home secretary Priti Patel has launched a new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Initiative (VAWG).

This strategy will aim to increase support for victims and survivors, increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice and reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the long-term. 

A number of measures in the strategy are focused on practical action to increase physical safety in public places. 

Waveney MP Peter Aldous pledged to take greater action to make women on our streets feel safer.

women's safety

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, has pledged to tackle the issue of women's safety. - Credit: Mick Howes

He said: "I have spoken to representatives of the Suffolk Constabulary about the events and aftermath.

"Though technically occurring in a different 'branch' of the police from their own, they fully acknowledge the damage the episode has done to public trust in the police nationally, drawing parallels with the case of Stephen Lawrence.

"They informed me that their response to this is now essential and must be geared towards rebuilding this trust. 

"Internally, they plan to usher in a culture change amongst officers, who must feel free to speak out about problems within their ranks and report colleagues where appropriate.

"Externally, they will work towards improving their communications to and engagement with the public, which at its most basic level happens out on the streets every single day. 

"For my part, I will be engaging with the Constabulary in my regular meetings with them to ensure that actions are being taken to see that this public confidence is rebuilt, which I appreciate will take time.

"In the meantime, as always I'd invite any constituent with concerns to write to me outlining them, which I would be happy to raise with the police on their behalf.”

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