People out at night in south London will see teams of officers deployed to provide reassurance as part of a project being piloted by the Met.

In the Met’s Central South Borough Command Unit, which covers the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, police are trialling Project Vigilant as part of the service’s bid to tackle violence against women and girls.

The project, which was developed by Thames Valley Police, involves teams patrolling busy night-time locations in the boroughs to identify and deter predatory offending.

These teams are made up of both uniformed officers and officers in plain clothes from Public Protection and the Predatory Offender Units working together in order to make the area a hostile place for offenders.

The plain-clothed officers are not deployed inside venues, but in public spaces with the role of identifying anyone who may be displaying predatory behaviour.

They will then alert their uniformed colleagues who will step in and engage with the individual concerned and take any action required.

This tactic is focused on identifying predatory behaviour and preventing offences from taking place in order to protect anyone who is vulnerable, including both women and men.

The trial started on Saturday, October 23 and two deployments have been completed so far.

Sherifa Carr from Lambeth’s Independent Advisory Group recently went out on one of the deployments to see Project Vigilant in action. She said: “I found going out on the operation very insightful and thought provoking, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

“The officers demonstrated their passion for our communities, their hard work, enthusiasm and the extreme measures of bravery that they are more than prepared to go to in order to keep our communities safe.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the Metropolitan Police Service is trying to do everything within their power to ensure the safety of women on our streets and have made women's safety an urgent national policing priority.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: “Project Vigilant demonstrates the Met’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls, and I hope it reassures communities that we are taking this issue very seriously and we are doing all we can to keep woman – and men – safe.

“We want everyone to be able to go about their business in London without fear or feeling unsafe. No one should have to put up with unwanted attention or predatory, sexual or violent behaviour.

“I am pleased that there has been positive feedback for the Project Vigilant pilot in Lambeth and Southwark.

"Upon conclusion of the pilot, we will look at the potential to roll it out Met wide to keep people safe across the capital.”

Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, who is in charge of policing in Lambeth and Southwark, said: “We are totally committed to ensuring that residents in Lambeth and Southwark can have an enjoyable night out without the fear of being sexually assaulted.

“By utilising uniformed and plain clothes officers working in tandem on our streets, we are able to witness predatory, harassing and other behaviours first hand and then intervene more quickly.

“This behaviour is clearly unacceptable, and Project Vigilant is one initiative, alongside a range of activities with our partners, in which we will keep people safe whilst making the streets a hostile place for perpetrators wanting to commit sexual offences.”

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