Women in Newham, as in every corner of London, are no strangers to crime.

In 2022 alone, women in the east London borough were victims of more than 300 violent night time attacks at the hands of men. 

Sometimes, a particularly shocking case will garner widespread media attention and community condemnation.

The murder of Kelly Stewart three years ago outside a church in Plaistow is one such example.

In court, Kelly who was aged 41 at the time of her murder, was described as “mentally ill and vulnerable”.

She had discharged herself from a mental health centre six days prior to her death and had taken to sleeping on the steps of her childhood church.

Her attacker was found to have probably targeted her after he had become embroiled in an argument with her ex-boyfriend earlier that night.Your Local Guardian: Kelly Stewart was killed in Plaistow in 2020Kelly Stewart was killed in Plaistow in 2020 (Image: Metropolitan Police)

Kelly’s death was covered extensively by Newham Recorder and in the national press, but most crimes against women still go largely unremarked or unreported.

But for those who police the streets of the borough, tackling low-level crime against women and girls is just as important as solving the biggest cases.

One such officer is PC Chloe Wright, who has worked for more than three years with the Metropolitan Police in North Plaistow, an area just a few minutes walk from where Kelly Stewart was killed.

As a Safer Neighbourhoods Officer, her role largely focuses on community engagement and tackling anti-social behaviour in her area.

Speaking at an event to commemorate murder victims at Newham Town Hall in early December, PC Wright claimed that focusing on the “little things” can dramatically help with crime prevention.

She said: “There’s a bit of a gap in the market for some issues within the area.

“Perhaps its people’s route home, or somewhere they feel unsafe, but it’s not quite enough to be a crime.

“Our Street Safe app is a way for them to be able to report things like that to us.

“They can open my eyes and we can take the relevant action to get it sorted. It builds up to tackling the bigger crimes.

“If it’s something as little as putting in a streetlight, it can prevent someone from being stabbed there one day. You never know.”

Alongside the Street Safe app, where you can anonymously report safety concerns in public places to police, Walk and Talk is another scheme available for women to use.

During the walks, an officer will accompany a woman through areas they feel unsafe – often taking in a route they regularly walk for school or work – to see if improvements can be made.

PC Wright claims that while these kind of scheme have helped reduce crimes against women and girls, there is still more to do.

She said: “I think community engagement is a big part of that.

“I don’t think we will ever reach the point where it’s 100% safe everywhere, for everybody. Crime will always be there.

“It is a shame and it’s a bitter pill to swallow that every woman has some sort of back-up plan in case things go wrong.

“It’s a scary world to live in but if I can play even just a small part to make it a little bit better, then I will.”