It’s time to work together to make Camden a safer place to be

Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria hold a candle outside his home in north London for a doorstep vig

Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria outside his home in north London for a doorstep vigil for Reclaim These Streets, after the public vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common was officially cancelled - Credit: PA

Last Saturday night at 9.30, when we are normally following our lockdown Saturday tradition of arguing over what to watch on Netflix, we were instead on our doorstep along with our neighbours. With candles (safely in a glass against the blasting wind) lit, we spent a few moments reflecting on the heart-breaking murder of Sarah Everard and the critical issue of safety on our streets.

As the mother of a daughter almost the same age as Sarah, I understand the constant anxiety surrounding her personal safety – late night outings, trips on public transport and being out alone. Sarah’s disappearance and murder represent every mother’s worst nightmare.

Laura Marks OBE, interfaith consultant, The Common Good.

Laura Marks says that Camden's streets can be made safer with the same spirit shown during the pandemic - Credit: Archant

I remember, decades ago, the narrative around women "asking for it", "wearing the wrong clothes" and not being "careful enough". Surely it is time to move on.

I was ashamed to discover, on doing some research this week, that Camden is the third most crime riddled borough in our city. However, and whilst it doesn’t make this tragedy any better, overall London is relatively safe, coming 22nd in the Economist’s ranking of safe cities 2019 ahead of Frankfurt and even Wellington. Whilst women are murdered daily by men, random abduction remains incredibly rare.

I reflected on this standing on the doorstep, candle glowing, and how this year we have come together to fight the pandemic. I felt sure we could use that same newly felt shared responsibility for each other, to tackle women’s safety.

In particular, here in North West London, there is so much we can do to make the streets safer, starting with shifting the responsibility from the women themselves. This includes tackling the entrenched misogyny in society, teaching our boys about women’s fears and what they can do as allies, working on better policing strategies and lighting up our dark alleys and streets especially during the long winter nights.

It’s time to work together to make Camden a safer place to be, for women on the streets and for all of us in this otherwise, remarkable borough.