Barking and Dagenham MPs say underlying societal issues need to be addressed for women to feel safer in public.

The death of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home in south London on the night of March 3, has sparked public outcry and reignited debate around women's safety.

A serving Met officer has been arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder and police have confirmed Sarah's body was found in Kent woodland on Wednesday, March 10.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge said women's safety is a critical issue but has been an area of concern for decades.

“Time and again we tell women to either walk a well-lit route home or to speak loudly on the phone if alone at night," she said.

“But until we combat the cause of the risks to women when out alone then nothing will change.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Sarah Everard disappeared while walking home on March 3.Sarah Everard disappeared while walking home on March 3. (Image: MPS)

“We need to be having conversations with men, asking them to call out unacceptable behaviour from other men if and when they see it.

“If something is intolerable, everyone should feel confident to challenge it.

“We also need to better educate young men, so they have a clear understanding of what is and is not acceptable.

“We must have a justice system and police service that better listens to women, believes women, and supports women too.”

The heartbreaking case has prompted many women to share experiences of when they have felt uncomfortable walking alone or taken measures to protect themselves while out.

“We all want London to be a safe city, where being alone at night is not something women have to fear," Ms Hodge said.

“But this means we must start talking about the causes of the problem and getting much better at speaking out when we know something is wrong.

“Women's safety is not a women's problem. It is something everyone has to take seriously.”

Barking and Dagenham Post: This tragedy not only shines a spotlight on public safety, said MP Jon Cruddas, but also on domestic abuse is tackled within communities.This tragedy not only shines a spotlight on public safety, said MP Jon Cruddas, but also on domestic abuse is tackled within communities. (Image: Jon Cruddas' Office)

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said the safety of women should be looked at in a wider context following the tragic events.

"It’s 2021 and there are still a significant number of women who do not feel safe walking in the street on their own or after dark - this is something that needs to be addressed," he said.

"The tragic incident has also rightly renewed discussions around how we tackle domestic abuse in our communities, something Barking and Dagenham Council have been proactive on.

"In the coming days I will be liaising with the police and local authorities to find out what actions are in place to ensure women across Dagenham and Rainham feel safe."