Asda, Tesco and M&S among shops offering safe spaces for women feeling in danger
Asda, Tesco and Marks and Spencer have all said shoppers can use their stores as a safe space in the wake of the death of Sarah Everard.
Ms Everard, 33, vanished while walking home from a friend’s house in south London on 3 March. Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.
The incident has seen hundreds of protestors take to the streets across the UK to demonstrate against gender violence and improve women’s safety.
Ms Everard’s family have called for her murder to bring about positive change in protecting women.
The supermarket chains have all posted messages on social media to inform customers that they can use their shops to seek safety and ask store staff for help.
In a message posted on Instagram, Asda said that everyone has the right to feel safe and assured shoppers that staff will be there for support if needed.
The post states: “Please know you can always take your time, wait inside or reach out to our colleagues should you be concerned for your safety.
“Customers and colleagues, we will be there for you.”
Tesco also issued a similar message on the social media platform, informing shoppers they can always go in to ask for help.
In a statement, the supermarket said: “All our stores are safe spaces. So if you ever feel unsafe, please use our stores to wait for a taxi, a bus or a friend for as long as you need to.
“Our colleagues will be more than happy to help.”
Marks and Spencer also issued a statement in support of shoppers’ safety, with the post reading: “Out stores are safe spaces for everyone in the community.
“If you feel unsafe, please come in and stay as long as you need to.
“Our colleagues are there to help anyone who needs it.”
The posts have been met with a positive response from social media users, with people taking to the platform to praise the supermarket's commitment to creating safe spaces.
The move comes after numerous stores, including Morrisons, Boots and Superdug, have provided safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.
More to be done
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that there is “more” to do when it comes to improving safety for women on Britain’s streets.
While new measures are being introduced, Mr Raab said it was appalling that women still suffered fear, intimidation and threats, and stressed more needs to be done to address the issue.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Raab said: “I think it is appalling that women still suffer the fear, the intimidation, the threats - and I say that as a son, a husband and a brother of a sister.
“And that’s why we are increasing the number of police by 20,000, we’ve heard new measures to make the streets safer with CCTV and lighting overnight, we’ve got two bits of legislation going through the House of Commons to increase the sentencing.
“I was a justice minister twice - I’ve been looking at those issues, I worked on the regional increase in stalking sentences. But clearly we’ve got to do more.
His comments come after Downing Street said it was taking a series of “immediate steps” to improve security, including the rollout across the country of pilots of a programme where uniformed and plain clothes officers seek to actively identify predatory and suspicious offenders in the night-time economy.
Dubbed “Project Vigilant”, the programme can involve officers attending areas around clubs and bars undercover, along with increased police patrols as people leave at closing time.
Other steps announced by the government include a doubling of the Safer Streets fund, which provides neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV, to £45 million.
Mr Raab added that there needs to be a “zero tolerance” approach to the “very small minority” who harass women on the country’s streets.