Undercover police to roam bars and clubs to protect women from predatory men

Undercover police officers will be stationed around bars and nightclubs in a bid to protect women from "predatory" offenders.

It will be part of a nationwide rollout of a pilot scheme where plain clothes officers seek to actively identify predators and suspicious individuals.

Dubbed "Project Vigilant", it could involve officers attending areas around clubs and bars along with increased patrols as people leave venues at closing time.

It follows the tragic death of Sarah Everard, which led to an outpouring of concern that women are not safe on the streets of the UK.

Other steps unveiled by Downing Street include a doubling of the Safer Streets fund – which provides neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV – to £45 million.

It also said ministers were committed to working with police forces and with police and crime commissioners to ensure the measures were more focused on preventing sexual violence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night.

"We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe. Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them."

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Sarah, 33, disappeared while walking home from a friend's house in south London on Wednesday, March 3.

Her body was found the following week and serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.

A meeting of the Government's Crime and Justice Taskforce, chaired by the Prime Minister, took place after demonstrators took to the streets of central London to protest at the policing of a vigil for Sarah on Saturday.

  • Police officer on Sarah Everard search shared 'inappropriate graphic' with colleagues

There were a number of arrests after the police ordered the protesters to disperse, warning they were in breach of coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Earlier Mr Johnson backed Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick following calls for her resignation in the wake of the Force's handling of the vigil.

He said that Sir Thomas Winsor, chief inspector of constabulary, would be carrying out a review into the way the event was policed.

  • Sarah Everard police discover gold necklace as they search recycling bins and river

Earlier in a Commons statement, Home Secretary Priti Patel said "too many" women felt unsafe in public.

Mr Johnson said: "I think people have got to have confidence in the police and Tom's going to look at that.

"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 fist in case we need to defend ourselves and that is not OK."

The vigil in Clapham Common had been organised by the protest group Reclaim These Streets before it was forced to cancel.

An organiser from the group said she did not want Dame Cressida to resign, but asked for the police chief to meet with them.

Anna Birley told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "We are a movement of women seeking to support and empower other women, and as one of the most senior women in British policing history, we do not want to add to the pile-on."

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