Have your say to improve women's safety in Hackney

A woman walking after dark on Poynders Road in Clapham, south London

A woman walking after dark in London - Credit: PA

Street harassment, poor lighting, people hanging about on the street and mobile phone thefts are amongst the concerns of women who are pinpointing places in Hackney where they feel unsafe.

They have been responding to the council’s call for information from people who live or work in the borough, so that certain areas can be improved with measures such as better street lighting or clearing undergrowth.

So far 214 people have added their views to a map of Hackney.

The map was launched by the councillor in charge of community safety, Susan Fajana-Thomas, during the annual 16 days of activism opposing violence against women and girls in November and December last year. 

It had added poignancy following the recent murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, and sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Handout file photo dated 06/06/2020 of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman taken from Bibaa's phone. Dan

Sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were murdered in a park in Kingsbury - Credit: PA

People can share their views through the survey until January 25 and the results will be analysed by March.

Their input will form part of the council’s three-year strategy to eliminate violence against women and girls.

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One resident described how their mobile phone was “snatched out of my hand by a mugger on a bike – very fast, very accomplished”.

They said there needed to be more CCTV covering estates in Hackney.

The resident explained “minimal overlooking [plus] no CCTV [equals a] free pass for muggers”, adding that “anyone who lives here knows there are cycle gangs and lone cycle muggers”.

sarah everard

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

Another resident who nearly had their phone stolen echoed the call for more lights and cameras to deter crime.

Others called for better lighting, especially near parks. One said their route home from train stations can feel “very dark and quiet.”

Another respondent said they wanted “much more lighting at night time, especially under bridges” at the Regent’s Canal and “visible CCTV around”.

They said: “Would definitely not walk on my own at night. Even cycling feels pretty scary.”

Another woman said lights have been out of action for years at an estate off the Kingsland Road.

They told the council: “The lamp posts on the Harman estate in the square area have not been working for over four years, so the pathways are dark in the evening and at night time when residents of the estate are returning home from the bus stop on Kingsland High Road. I do not feel safe as a woman.”

Sabina Nessa

Sabina Nessa was found dead near a community centre in Cator Park on September 18, 2020 - Credit: Met Police

Residents also reported concerns about groups of men, or drinkers, on the street, making them feel uneasy.

People reported experiences of “street harassment and cat-calling”.

They also spoke about feeling “really scared” at night on less busy roads and said they were bothered by “cars slowing down near me when I am walking past”.

One raised concerns about a side street near Regent’s Canal: “Lots of groups of men hanging out down this street. Drug deals in cars, poorly lit.”

Another pointed out work was needed near Stoke Newington police station, saying: “At night the area behind the police station is very dark and very empty, have come across men following [or] commenting and it feels unsafe as lots of dark corners.”

Several people want to see safety measures at Green Lanes and Stoke Newington Church Street to make them feel safer going to and from work.

One resident called for better CCTV on Blackstock Road near the border with Islington and said it “feels pretty scary at night”.

Another called for “a safety phone that women could just pick up and it goes straight to the police station, a bit like they have on motorways for breakdowns”.

The council has stated: "Hackney's new Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2022 - 2025 will be published, drawing on your feedback and from groups and agencies across the Borough.

"The strategy will set out the work to be done by the council and key stakeholders to eliminate violence against women and girls in Hackney."

In November, when the engagement initiative Cllr Fajana-Thomas said all women and girls should be able to live without fear of abuse, harassment or intimidation. 

The councillor added: "It’s more important than ever that we take a stand against violence and abuse towards women and girls in our society."

The strategy will be reviewed regularly throughout the initiatives 3 year span.

Have your say by January 25 at hackneywomenssafety.commonplace.is

Hackney Council have been contacted for comment. 



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