Hundreds of police officers will be added to London’s streets over the next six months in a bid to make women and girls feel safer, the Metropolitan Police has said.
The force has announced an additional 650 officers will be put in place across the capital, with 500 officers being based permanently in busy neighbourhoods and 150 joining London wards as “Bobbies on the beat”.
The Met said the addition of the new officers – a combination of new staff as part of the Government’s national recruitment drive and redeployed personnel – was part of a drive to cut down on violent crime, including domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, after the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens.
The armed officer used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage the fake arrest of the 33-year-old before he raped and murdered her.
The town centre teams will be made up of one inspector, two sergeants and 21 police constables.
Once in place, the local police leaders will be able to increase the size of their teams if needed.
The first tranche of officers will be in place by late 2021 and all 19 teams are expected to be in place by spring 2022.
They will be located in boroughs and towns across London, from Hounslow, west London, to Barking and Dagenham, east London.
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “Local policing is at the heart of everything we do and we know that we are so much more effective if we are in communities and neighbourhoods, working side-by-side with all Londoners, listening and engaging with them, tackling the issues that make them feel unsafe.”
🚔 We're boosting the number of officers working in town centres and neighbourhoods across #London.
👮♀️ 650 new officers in busy places👮 150 new dedicated ward officers
Local policing is at the heart of what we do and we want communities to feel safe.https://t.co/iJuimerTuO
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) October 5, 2021
Areas where there are “extraordinary demands”, such as Westminster, will have “enhanced” or “additional” town centre teams.
The boroughs of Camden and Brent will have two teams whilst the West End will have a single but bigger team.
Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said she welcomed the drive but felt “fundamental systematic changes” still need to be made.
She told the PA news agency: “More police officers on the streets is not something I’m ever going to speak against, but until they dramatically improve, and not just the Met, but until all police forces dramatically improve their response when women come forward with crimes that men have committed against them, the problem isn’t going to go away.”
On Monday, Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick announced she has called in an independent reviewer to look at the force’s culture and standards following Couzens’ whole life sentencing last week.
Dame Cressida plans to announce who will undertake the review, expected to take at least six months, in about a week’s time.
Ms Phillips described the review as “sticking plaster” and said she was concerned it was an “improved PR exercise rather than a systematic change exercise”.
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the “anger over Sarah Everard’s murder is a symptom” of a “wider frustration that people feel”.
He added that making streets safer is part of making women and girls feel more safe.
The UK crime and policing minister, Kit Malthouse, told Sky News he accepts there is a problem with violence against women in the UK and said the reason for a fall in rape convictions was “complicated” but the Government was working on improving the figures.