More than half of women in Suffolk do not feel safe walking alone, survey reveals

A missing Ipswich teenager has been found Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A survey has revealed that more than half of women in Suffolk do not feel safe walking alone - Credit: Archant

More than half of women in Suffolk feel unsafe when they are walking or travelling alone in the county, according to a revealing survey

The heartbreaking death of Sarah Everard, whose body was found in Ashford, Kent, seven days after she was last seen walking home in Clapham, London, has prompted a national debate on women's safety. 

PC Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with the murder and kidnap of Ms Everard. He has been remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on July 9 ahead of a trial that is set to start on October 25.

Sarah Everard, 33, who left a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday, March 3 and has

The murder of Sarah Everard has prompted a national debate on women's safety - Credit: PA

In the wake of Ms Everard's death, which shocked the nation, the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star launched a survey to encourage women to speak out about how secure they feel in the county. 

We received more than 3,500 responses, and many women anonymously detailed some of their own experiences. 

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A total of 53% of women said they often or usually felt unsafe when walking or travelling alone while 67% said they had felt it necessary to take measures to protect themselves while they were out. 

A number of women revealed the type of measures they do take when walking alone, with holding keys in hand, having mobile phones ready to call, crossing the road and and walking longer routes among the common themes. 

In terms of feeling safe in general when living in Suffolk, more than two thirds of women (67%) said they did while 32% said they did not. 

Demonstrators during a protest organised in remembrance of murdered Sarah Everard

Demonstrators during a protest organised in remembrance of murdered Sarah Everard and in protest of continued violence against women - Credit: PA

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Suffolk police said it "acknowledged the current feeling that many women do not feel safe". 

But the force said it was committed to keeping everyone as safe as possible and added that officer numbers will increase by 75 in the coming financial year. 

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Sarah Everard’s murder was appalling and has rightly instigated a national debate on the safety and treatment of women.

“Suffolk Constabulary is committed to keeping everyone as safe as possible and protecting our communities. We have a key role in ensuring women feel safe at home or on the streets and we acknowledge the current feeling that many women do not feel safe.

“In terms of police officers, raising the policing element of the precept and the additional officers from the government’s Operation Uplift programme will increase police numbers in Suffolk by around 75 in this coming financial year."

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Organisers of Reclaim The Night Ipswich have blasted police advice for 'encouraging victim blaming' Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The spokesman added that there has been "significant investment" in investigators and support services for domestic violence and serious sexual offences. 

“The force and its partners are committed to delivering professional and empathetic services to the victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences," the spokesman said. 

“There has been significant investment in investigators and support services across the county and the constabulary investment is now greater than ever.

“Our safeguarding investigation units deal with reports of rape and serious sexual offences. These officers will often be the first to attend a live report. Furthermore, we have a 24-hour accessible sexual assault referral centre facility with trained staff to provide the highest level of service to the victims of these crimes."

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The Government has issued extra funding for Suffolk police to up patrols to enforce coronavirus restrictions. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The spokesman added: “In addition, all of Suffolk’s front-line officers receive training to deal with victims of sexual assault/violence and possess the necessary competencies to provide a high level of service to victims. They are equipped with the knowledge and skills regarding forensic recovery, victim safeguarding and the sexual assault referral centre process.

 “If you feel unsafe when out or a crime is committed – we would urge you report it to us. If you experience violence or abuse behind closed doors – report it to us. We will take it seriously, we will investigate and if a crime has been committed we will do all we can to help you get justice.”