At midday today we will be holding a minutes silence to remember Sarah Everard & other women in Lambeth whose lives were tragically taken due to violence from men. This evening, Lambeth Town Hall will be lit orange in their memory.
The events of the last week have produced an outpouring of anger and sadness, as well as a determination to build a society in which women and girls are safe and feel safe everywhere.
Sadly, this was marred by the handling of the Metropolitan Police of the vigil for Sarah on Clapham Common on Saturday.
This event could have been a peaceful and respectful opportunity to pay tribute to Sarah’s memory and for the voices of women and girls to be heard. Instead, the senior leadership of the Metropolitan Police refused to engage with Reclaim These Streets and tried to clamp down, infringing the rights of assembly of women and girls and causing even more pain in an already deeply painful week.
We have sought clarity from the police – their responses and the official statement from the Metropolitan Police are completely inadequate.
As leaders, we have called for an independent investigation into the actions of the senior Metropolitan Police leadership and the decisions that led to the disgraceful policing of the vigil. This has now been announced by the Mayor of London.
Policing by consent, fully accountable to the community and trusted by it is something we have always strived to ensure exists in Lambeth. The actions of the senior leadership of the Metropolitan Police have done immense damage to that in the last few days.
This time should be about remembering Sarah Everard and the task we all face in creating a society where all women and girls are safe and free. That is our commitment in Lambeth and we will continue to ensure that the institutions that we work with, including the police, live up to that.
We will make good on that commitment in Lambeth, by taking action to protect women and girls through our fantastic Violence Against Women and Girls services. That includes working with local schools and colleges to make sure people are aware of services available to support them; putting in additional resources in schools and colleges in the area to support women and girls; providing details of all services available to the public; working with local GPs and health providers across Lambeth so they are equipped to support and refer patients; increasing our services during this time to make sure that everyone who wants to speak to them can do so; working with the police on ensuring personal safety alarms are available for women who want one; maintaining our funding for these services as we have done throughout austerity; and working on a new strategy to prevent violence against women and girls that we will deliver later this year.
The Gaia Centre provides confidential, non-judgmental and independent support services for those living in Lambeth who are experiencing gender-based violence. If you’re in Lambeth, call the Gaia Centre on 020 7733 8724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to hear about opportunities to get involved in our cross-borough work to address violence against women and girls, please sign up to be kept informed.
Cllr Jacqui Dyer, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Leader of Lambeth council