Female officers have joined forces with runners in Merton as part of the Met Police's work to ensure women and girls are safe, and feel safe, in public places.

Earlier this year, the Met launched a “walk and talk” scheme where women joined police officers on foot patrol to share their experiences and concerns about safety in public places.

It started as 25 neighbourhood officers buddying up with local women in south London, and the scheme has now been rolled out across the capital.

Following the walk and talk scheme, five female officers have today joined an all-women running club in Merton, while inviting them to share their experiences and concerns around women’s safety.

Wimbledon Times:

Caroline Dunleavy who runs the Common Runners group, said: “This morning we had a very muddy 8k run but everyone enjoyed it; today was all about having a chat.

"We discussed women’s safety and wider issues along with questions about policing.

"It is important to increase visibility and see the women officers as people and not just police.

"It is a great, positive initiative and it will really do some good.”

Inspector Sarah Dobinson, a local officer and running club member, said: “It has been an invaluable experience to get out running with women living in the local community and listening to their lived experiences around women’s safety.

“We have bonded over our shared hobby of running, alongside our passion to make sure women can partake in this activity as safely as possible.

"We are excited to take their thoughts and suggestions forward to see what both the Met and our partners can do to make a real difference.

“This is also a great opportunity for us to engage with the communities we serve and build vital relationships with the public.

“Every day we are working closely with a range of partners across the capital to create a safe environment for women and girls to go about their daily business.

"This includes stepping up reassurance patrols in open spaces across London.”

Wimbledon Times:

The female officers involved all have a shared passion for running.

The idea to combine their love of running within a community ‘safe-space’ to open up vital conversations with local women is likely to be rolled out more widely across London in the coming months.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: “We fully appreciate that events over the past year have heightened concerns about violence amongst women in London.

"We remain committed as ever to doing everything we can to keep women and girls safe.

“Schemes such as these are a fantastic way for officers to build an informal rapport with local women and get to the heart of the issues and concerns they are facing in the community.

"It provides local policing teams with valuable information and insight which will enable us to channel our resources into relevant areas.

"Feedback from members has been overwhelmingly positive and we will continue to build on rolling out similar schemes over the coming months.”

In November 2021, the Met published an action plan setting out how it is tackling violence against women and girls.

Feedback on this plan can be shared here.