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Safer Streets for Women

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2021

The tragic death of Sarah Everard has reminded us that we need to work together to ensure women do not feel at risk of harm on our streets. Since this senseless tragedy, we have taken immediate action by more than doubling the safer streets fund and building on what works by supporting measures such as better lighting and CCTV. The Minister for Crime and Policing will also hold a summit with police, the violence against women and girls sector, and industry representatives from the night-time economy on preparations to protect women as pandemic restrictions lift.

I thank the Minister for her response. Following that tragic case, a good number of my constituents have been in touch with their concerns over whether their local area is safe. One of them, Courtney Beech, who is an outreach worker for Drop Zone in Barrow, is concerned about the lack of lighting in local parks and the cemetery. What efforts are the Government making to ensure that good practice is being shared with local authorities and other local organisations to keep women feeling safe and secure, especially at night time?

I share my hon. Friend’s concern. No one should feel unsafe walking on the street, least of all those who are doing valuable work in the community like Drop Zone. I hope he can reassure his constituents of the Government’s commitment to this issue. The safer streets fund has been more than doubled so it can support interventions such as street lighting and CCTV, which will make people feel safer, and they are the responsibility of local authorities.

In order to make the streets safer for women, we must tackle the culture underpinning male violence. Does my hon. Friend agree with the conclusion of the February 2020 report of the Government Equalities Office that the use of pornography is an important contributing factor to harmful sexual behaviours? If so, how will she make sure that the Government emphasis is not simply on street lights, but also on the causes of male violence against women?

I think I can certainly say that I personally agree with my right hon. Friend. I do know that these issues have been looked at by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins). She is not here today, unfortunately, but she has been looking into this issue and I will follow it up with her to provide a more comprehensive response to my right hon. Friend’s question.