Police have insisted London’s streets are “safe for women” amid fresh outcry over women’s personal safety following the murder of Sabina Nessa.
The 28-year-old primary school teacher is thought to have been killed by a stranger as she walked through Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, just after 8.30pm last Friday.
Greenwich Council has handed out more than 200 personal alarms to women in the area since police launched the murder investigation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry of the Metropolitan Police spoke to the media at the crime scene on Thursday and was asked whether women should feel safe when walking alone.
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Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry speaking to the media at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, on 23 September (Photo: Ian West/PA Wire)
He said: “The streets are safe for women, I’d like to reassure the public around that.
“I’d like to make sure that people are free to walk around free from fear and my officers will make sure that that can take place.”
Ms Nessa was making a five-minute journey through the park to meet a friend at The Depot Bar in Kidbrooke Village when police believe she was attacked.
Her body was discovered the following afternoon near the OneSpace community centre within the park.
A man in his 40s, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, has been released pending further enquiries, the Metropolitan Police Service said.
DCS Lawry said investigators are keeping a “completely open mind” on what the motive of the attacker may have been.
Ms Nessa’s murder has led campaigners to question whether lessons have been learnt since Sarah Everard’s murder in Clapham, south-west London, in March.
The kidnap and killing of the 33-year-old marketing executive sparked nationwide calls for police to tackle male violence against women and girls.
Floral tributes at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south London, near to the scene where the body of Sabina Nessa was found (Photo: Ian West/PA Wire)
Then in July, teenager Danyal Hussein was convicted of murdering sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, in a park in Wembley, north west London in June 2020.
DCS Tawry said: “I think the main things that are changing are that, one, we’re listening to people, we’re understanding where people are feeling not so safe, and we’re putting out patrols to make sure that we do that.
“This isn’t just a policing issue, there’s lots of issues to be able to make people feel safe in an open space and we’re working with our partners to ensure we do that.”
Meanwhile the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said violence against women and girls is an “epidemic” which should be treated with the same level of priority as terrorism.
He said the introduction of relationship education for boys to the Government making misogyny a hate crime and ensuring the criminal justice system deals with these cases are some of the measures that could address the issues.
Mr Khan said: “I think this deserves the same priority as counter-terrorism. It is an epidemic and I think it’s really important that people like me, who have not had to live the experiences of women and girls, listen to the experience of women and girls and work with them to have policies that address this awful issue.”
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He said his thoughts and prayers are with Ms Nessa’s family, adding: “It’s just awful what happened to Sabina last Friday.
“When I think of Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman, Sarah Everard, it’s heart-breaking.”
He echoed words used by campaign group Reclaim These Streets, who earlier said: “We are angry and heartbroken about the murder of Sabina Nessa.
“There is an epidemic of violence unfolding in front of our eyes and all we are getting from the Government are empty words and reports.”
A vigil to mark the life of Ms Nessa is due to take place on Friday night.