United Kingdom

Police 'should tell men to stay indoors' when a killer is on the run

Men could be asked by police to stay off their local streets if a murderer is on the loose, the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales has suggested.

Dame Vera Baird QC said there was a 'real vacuum of police action in the fight against violence against women' following the murder of Sabina Nessa, 28.

Primary school teacher Miss Nessa was killed in a park in Kidbrooke, South East London, on September 17 and her body was found covered in leaves the next day.

Dame Vera has been critical of the police response following the murder and spoke about it during a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Sunday.

She said the Reclaim The Streets movement started in the 1970s at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, when women rejected advice to stay indoors.

Former Labour MP Dame Vera Baird QC is the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales

Primary school teacher Sabina Nessa, 36, was killed in a park in Kidbrooke, South East London, on September 17 and her body was found covered in leaves the next day

According to The Times, Dame Vera said: 'If you remember that Reclaim the Streets started when the Yorkshire Ripper was at large in the late Seventies…

'The point of that was because the police told women in the North to keep off the streets to be safe from him - when, of course, we thought they should have been telling men to keep off the streets so what he was doing might be a bit more visible.

Dame Vera said the Reclaim The Streets movement started at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, in the 1970s

'It strikes me that very little has changed.'

The killing of Miss Nessa has triggered an outpouring of anger and grief as MPs and campaigners have demanded that the streets be made safer for women.

Pizza delivery driver Koci Selamaj will appear in court today accused of murdering her 200 yards from her home, after he was charged last night. 

Dame Vera attended a vigil to Miss Nessa in Wood Green on Friday night.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday, the former Labour MP said there needs to be more onus on police to protect the public than on women to take precautions.

She said: 'Apparently the police have been giving out rape alarms to women and giving leaflets out saying how to stay safe in a public place.

'It is less, isn't it, about giving women leaflets on keeping themselves safe in dangerous places and more about the police making the streets safe for women?' 

The thirteen victims of Peter Sutcliffe. Top row (left to right) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson, Jayne McDonald and Jean Jordan. Bottom row: Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach and Jacqueline Hill

Hundreds of mourners, including Miss Nessa's sister Jebina Yasmin Islam, attended an emotional candlelit vigil last Friday at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, South East London

Dame Vera has been critical of the police response following the murder and spoke about it during a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Sunday (pictured)

When it was put to her that there needed to be societal change along with police intervention, Dame Vera replied: 'It certainly isn't just a job for the police but, look, the police do have a very key role here.'

Sarah Everard, 33, was kidnapped and murdered by a police officer in March

She added: 'Three-quarters of women over 16 have been harassed in a public place and don't feel safe. They need to know that the police understand that and will use all the powers they have got to keep the streets safe.'

Hundreds of mourners, including Miss Nessa's sister Jebina Yasmin Islam, attended an emotional candlelit vigil last Friday at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke.

A separate rally earlier in the evening at East London Mosque heard powerful testimony from other members of Miss Nessa's family.

The murder has reignited concerns about women's safety after Sarah Everard, 33, was kidnapped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens in South London in March. 

It has also prompted more discussion about the fatal stabbing of sisters Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, in a park in Wembley, North West London, last June. 

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