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Kent to get £700,000 to help make women feel safer in Ashford, Chatham and Rochester

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More than £700,000 is being spent to help make the streets in some parts of Kent safer for women and girls.

The funding from the county's crime commissioner comes after an outpouring of concern about women's safety, in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

Matthew Scott explaining the funding on offer

The 33-year-old was kidnapped as she walked home along a busy London road.

Former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, previously of Freemens Way in Deal, was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey last Thursday.

The court heard how Couzens drove to the outskirts of Dover where he raped and murdered Sarah, before dumping her body in Great Chart, near Ashford.

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, has now been awarded £741,548 to make the streets of Ashford, Rochester and Chatham safer.

The money will be spent on personal safety equipment, drink testing kits and personal alarms, as well as providing safe havens and installing more CCTV and improved street lighting.

Sarah Everard was kidnapped as she walked home
Sarah Everard was kidnapped as she walked home

It is part of the Home Office Safer Streets initiative and will complement three similar projects already running in Gillingham, Canterbury and Ramsgate.

Mr Scott said: "My team has been working with the Home Office and local authorities to secure extra funding to make women and girls feel safer.

"I’m delighted my team has secured funding for these initiatives.

"I’m hoping they’ll provide extra security for women and girls out enjoying what our town centres have to offer.

"Tackling violence against women and girls is one of my priorities.

Matthew Scott Kent Police and Crime Commissioner
Matthew Scott Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

"We’ve been looking at a number of different areas. We looked at particular trends where women were telling us they didn’t feel safe, and particular offences that were being reported. So we put together this package with the Home Office to address some of those concerns and I have every confidence that it will make women feel safer."

Speaking about Sarah Everard, the crime commissioner said: "It makes me very angry even talking about him (Wayne Couzens) and what he did to that poor young woman Sarah. He has been rightly sentenced to a whole life term and he will never see the light of day again. And I think that is absolutely appropriate.

"This tragic case has acted for many agencies including myself to redouble our efforts to tackle violence against women, especially violence committed by men.

"As a White Ribbon ambassador and a White Ribbon force, we’ve been at the forefront of that campaign for a while but there is obviously more we can do and more we can learn and we are absolutely determined to do this as one of our top priorities."

Wayne Couzens has been given a whole life sentence
Wayne Couzens has been given a whole life sentence

In August Mr Scott launched a survey to gauge how safe women and girls feel in the county. He said it has had more than 6,000 responses. The next steps will see the police working with local councils and speaking more in depth to victims.

Mr Scott said: "We have been working on this review for sometime. Some of the survey results are telling us key locations about where women feel unsafe, how unsafe they feel and what time of day. Some of the results are expected but there is some really helpful intelligence coming through.

"We are on track to hopefully report in the new year."

The money has been awarded through a bidding process. The county has already secured more than £870,000 for Safer Streets Projects in Gillingham, Ramsgate and Canterbury.

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