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Citizens UK torchlight march for better street lights to make East End safer

PUBLISHED: 19:13 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:09 18 February 2014

A group of people from London Citizens take part in a torchlight protest against crime in Tower Hamlets.

A group of people from London Citizens take part in a torchlight protest against crime in Tower Hamlets.

Archant

Protesters have been on a torchlight walk through London’s East End to press for better street lighting to make life safer for women and others at night.

A group of people from London Citizens protest outside Shadwell Station against crime in Tower Hamlets.A group of people from London Citizens protest outside Shadwell Station against crime in Tower Hamlets.

Members of Citizens UK volunteering network ran a safety audit which has identified lack of neighbourhood police patrols and poor street lighting near parks, Underground stations and bus-stops that make people feel unsafe.

So they took to the streets last Thursday, church and mosque worshippers, Salvation Army members, university students and schoolchildren marching from Shadwell station to Mile End Park.

“Many women worry about how they’re getting home or to the station when it gets dark in winter,” Citizens’ organiser Sotez Chowdhury explained. “They get harassed at bus-stops and are frightened to cut through parks because of bad lighting. Even men can be harassed.”

The torchlight march came two weeks after revelations that Tower Hamlets council was dimming 50 street lights at certain times in a trial to see if it saves money.

It brought criticism from MP Jim Fitzpatrick who took a dim view of it and said the council should have alerted the public first. None of the lights in the pilot scheme were being switched off, the Town Hall assured.

But Sotez insisted: “People feel there aren’t enough lights anyway—so we want to negotiate with the council about dimming lights.”

The safety audit involved hundreds of women, many working in Queen Mary’s college, which revealed dodgy areas around parks and Underground stations at Mile End and Stepney Green.

Citizens UK has compiled a ‘danger’ map based on the information which is being used to negotiate with police and council for more patrols and better lighting.

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