Majority of women who responded to survey report feeling unsafe in London

Floral tributes left at the band stand in Clapham Common, London, for murdered Sarah Everard. Servin

Floral tributes left at the band stand in Clapham Common, London, for Sarah Everard - Credit: PA

Hundreds of women in London have said they often feel unsafe in the capital, with most Hackney women who responded to a survey taking measures to protect themselves while out.

After Sarah Everard's disappearance from a south London street on March 3 reignited debates around women's safety, the Gazette asked women in Hackney and other London boroughs about their experiences living in London through a survey. 

One Hackney respondent said: "I never walk alone after dark. I cycle everywhere and never use public transport, partly because I don't feel safe on it.

"I go for runs after dark but I keep to well-lit areas and where there is some crowds. If I'm walking out alone, I change my route according to the time of the day."

In the survey, more than half of almost 800 women from north and east London said they often or usually feel unsafe walking or travelling alone in London and despite Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick's reassurance to women that abduction is "extremely rare", 31 out of 38 women surveyed from Hackney said they took measures to protect themselves while out. 

Many reported the use of keys as a potential weapon against would-be attackers and said they often took out their headphones to stay alert while walking alone.

Other cautionary measures included calling someone or pretending to be on the phone, sharing live locations and having rape alarms, while some said they carried small knives. 

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Women in the survey reported being followed, grabbed, shouted at and threatened by men.

Forty-three per cent of women surveyed from Hackney said they often or usually felt unsafe while living in London and, while about half stated they felt safe most of the time, none reported feeling safe all the time.

Eleven per cent responded as "not sure" or said it depended on the time of day, with some reporting feeling more secure now they are older or because they are extra vigilant. 

Some people surveyed asked men to challenge inappropriate behaviour when they see it, with one respondent commenting: "Don’t walk behind, don’t grab us, don’t speak to us and if you see an uncomfortable situation, step in."

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged on suspicion of murder and kidnap after Sarah Everard's body was found in a Kent woodland. 


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