NEW street lights will be installed and undercover cops will patrol outside bars and clubs in a crackdown on violence against women.
Boris Johnson last night vowed to do whatever it takes to make Britain’s streets safe amid a national outcry over the Sarah Everard killing.
But as he scrambled to reassure Brits, furious protesters descended on Parliament to vent their fury and demand change.
Hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic on Westminster Bridge and later stopped outside Scotland Yard chanting “we will not be silenced”.
As anger boiled on the streets, under-fire Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick clung on to her job. She had faced furious calls to quit after cops stormed young women at a candlelit vigil for Sarah, pinned them to the ground, and hauled them away in handcuffs.
The PM said the scenes were “very distressing” and will be fully investigated. But he said he has “full confidence” in Britain’s top cop.
Speaking on a trip to Coventry, he said: “The police do have a very, very difficult job.
“But there’s no question that the scenes that we saw were very distressing, and so it is right that Tom Winsor, the inspector of constabulary, should do a full report into it.
“I think people have got to have confidence in the police and Tom’s going to look at that.”
He said Britain is “united in shock and grief” at Sarah’s killing, and that it is a wakeup call for change.
He said: “I think the fundamental issue that we have to address as a country, and as a society and as a government is that women in particular must feel that when they make serious complaints about violence, about assault, that they are properly heard. We are going to make sure that that happens.”
Patsy Stevenson, the red-haired protester seen pinned down by two policemen in images that went viral, also said Dame Cressida should stay.
She told Good Morning Britain: “As someone who stands up for women’s rights I think we need to get the message away from ‘We are against the police’ and focus on how we need to open a new dialogue to protect women’s safety.”
Determined to quell the growing anger, the PM held an emergency meeting with Dame Cressida, Priti Patel and other senior ministers to discuss a fresh crackdown on violence against women.
They agreed to pump tens of millions of pounds into installing new street lights and CCTV cameras so people feel safer walking home.
While plain-clothed police officers will be sent to patrol the streets near clubs and bars to spot suspicious looking men. The police operation is currently run by Thames Valley, but pilots will be rolled out across the country. They will kick in in time for when clubs reopen after Covid.
MPs yesterday spoke movingly about the fear and violence women have endured all their lives as they demanded change. In emotionally-charged scenes, Ms Patel – known for her tough talk and bullish nature – revealed she too fears walking home alone.
She said: “I would like to take a moment to acknowledge why Sarah’s death has upset so many. My heartache, and that of others, can be summed up in just five words: ‘She was just walking home.’ It has rightly ignited anger at the danger posed to women by predatory men – and anger I feel as strongly as anyone.
“Too many of us have walked home from school or work alone, only to hear footsteps uncomfortably close behind us. Too many of us have pretended to be on the phone to a friend to scare someone off. Too many of us have clutched our keys in our fists in case we need to defend ourselves – and that is not OK.”
But she urged Brits to stay away from protests as Covid has not yet been defeated. She told the Commons: “It is for that reason that I continue to urge everyone for as long as these regulations are in place not to participate in large gatherings or attend protests.
“The right to protest is the cornerstone of our democracy, but the Government’s duty remains to prevent more lives being lost during this pandemic.”
In tense scenes, Tory MP Charles Walker said MPs are to blame for the overzealous policing because Parliament had slapped draconian restrictions on gatherings during lockdown.
He fumed: “This House criminalised the freedom of protest, this House, us. Not Dame Cressida, not the Metropolitan Police, we did. We criminalised the freedom to protest collectively. We are up to our eyeballs in this.”
A YouGov poll of 5,168 adults found that 47 per cent backed Dame Cressida to remain in post, with 23 per cent calling for her to go.
The controversy comes amid a blazing political row over the Government’s flagship policing bill which will make it harder for protesters like Extinction Rebellion to shut down printing presses.
Labour have vowed to vote against the Bill – which also forces serious sex offenders to stay in jail for longer.
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