Edinburgh Crime: Sarah Everard murder sparks Edinburgh women's safety campaign targeted at changing men's attitudes

A campaign targeted at changing men’s attitudes and behaviour has been given the go-ahead, after a council backed plans to ramp up women’s safety measures in the capital.

Sarah Everard: Murdered by a 'monster'
Sarah Everard: Murdered by a 'monster'

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Councillors have backed a number of proposals to improve women’s safety including a public consultation and a campaign to “reverse” the idea that women’s safety is an issue to be addressed by women.

The campaign would aim to highlight how men can act as “allies” in promoting the safety of women in public spaces.

Inverleith Park - North after nightfall at 4pm.

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It comes after 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by Wayne Couzens, a serving Met Police officer, while walking to her home in London in March. Her murder saw people across the globe call for more to be done to end violence against women.

Alarming figures show there were 1,057 non-sexual crimes of violence and 1,206 sexual crimes in Edinburgh in the year from 2019 to 2020 – which is equal to one non-sexual crime of violence every 8.2 hours, and one sexual crime every 7 hours.

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Following a motion by Mandy Watt, councillors backed several recommendations set out in a new report, including installing more CCTV cameras in areas like the Meadows and improving lighting in parks and public spaces.

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Councillor Hal Osler has made repeated calls for increased protection for women.

Under the plans the council will review what street lighting on public paths and in open spaces has been reported as “inadequate” and what standards apply to the lighting of public paths and parks.

A feasibility assessment will be carried out to identify hotspots in the Meadows for additional cameras but the report stressed that, while CCTV was a “good starting point” it stressed need for ongoing Police patrols, with support from Street Assist Volunteers.

Other proposals agreed by councillors could see event organisers asked to tighten safety measures.

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Councillor Hal Osler who recently called for improved lighting in “pitch black” Inverleith park said: “As a society we need to stop saying “its not all men” and softening the narrative so offence is not caused. We know its not “all men” but it is “all women” who at some point feel fear and that needs to be our focus as this desperately needs to change.”

Councillor Mandy Watt said: “With this motion I was looking at what the council can do and hoped to see more specifics and to see what steps can be taken in the short, medium and long term.

"For example when it comes to CCTV how are the cameras deployed and how are officers trained to respond if a threat to a women is picked up on camera. With lighting we need proper lighting of the paths in the Meadows, along with other parks and public spaces. And we need more investigation into this, as well as more imagination into how we improve lighting in a way that means it can still be in line with requirements to be environmentally friendly.

"Lighting areas can make a huge difference to how women feel and how perpetrators behave. But it was interesting that many of the responses to this report by women stressed that improving safety for women improves safety for everyone. That speaks to how we feel uncomfortable or that we don’t have a right to ask for our needs to be met.”

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