Posted Wednesday 10 January 2024
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, the highest ranking officer in the country, has visited Kingston University to hear directly from students about ways to boost safety for women and girls.
At an event staged to coincide with the launch of the force's Violence Against Women and Girls Action Plan, Sir Mark was joined by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Millichap and other officers who were given an insight into additional measures students were keen to see implemented to help improve public safety.
The students heard that, as part of the campaign, the Met Police was focusing on 10 key commitments to better protect women and girls and build trust and confidence across the community. Senior officers from the Met, who were accompanied by representatives from Kingston Police, spoke to students from the School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences to learn more about their experiences living and socialising in the borough and the wider London area.
Sir Mark told event participants that the Met Police was placing increased emphasis on building trust, reducing crime and performing to the highest standards. Within its overarching aim of becoming a better police force for London, tackling violence against women and girls was top of the agenda, he added.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Millichap, who is leading the Met's drive to tackle violence against women and girls said officers were conscious their response needed to be shaped by those affected. "This is how we will create confidence that we are a police service that women can trust. Our new plan is built around creating that trust and making our tactics more precise, more effective and better resourced," she said.
The session also saw the students hear survivor stories from women who had been affected by violence, including community worker Nequela Whittaker who reflected on growing up in Brixton and experience of assault in her pre-teen years, which led to her becoming a gang member, turning to drugs and spending time in prison before she took the decision to transform her life. Other speakers included Lee Hopkins, deputy manager of Pryzm nightclub, who focused on safeguarding women enjoying a night out, Charles Bamford from the Kingston Street Pastors charity and local neighbourhood officer for the Kingston Town Centre Team Josh Laughton.
Criminology with forensic psychology student Mathilda Skeie-Larsen said the event had provided a useful platform to learn more from different people sharing their stories and hear about the work being done to enhance safety. "We've been studying victimhood recently and getting a more realistic perspective alongside our lectures has been really beneficial," she said. "For women, personal safety is something we have to think about every single time we step outside our houses. Seminars like these increase the feeling our safety is being prioritised."
The University's Head of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences Professor Stephen Tong, who is an expert in policing and criminal justice, said the session had given students a valuable chance to engage with a real world example of policing. "Our students had an opportunity to be a part of real change, engage with some of the most senior police officers in the country and learn about complexities in the field they are studying," he said. "Many of these conversations will lead to further interaction with local police about safety in Kingston, with the students' input helping improve the borough for all our communities."