Yesterday, the UK government announced a plan that would put undercover police in English and Welsh nightclubs and bars as a way to “protect” women from violence. This comes in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard with a MET police officer being arrested for the killing. She was not in nightclub, but in fact walking home from a friend’s home on a weekday evening. As one might expect, charities and organizations have questioned the sanity of this decision.
The plan to add more cops to nightlife is part of a larger plan that would include doubling to £45 million the Safer Streets fund that pays for street measures such as better lighting and CCTV.
Bryony Beynon, the managing director of the Good Night Out Campaign said that the plan was pretty frightening,” and that it “feels like an increase in police intrusion into social spaces” via The Guardian.
“The idea that undercover or plainclothes officers are somehow going to be a source of support just seems like very strange logic,” she said.
Some MPs are not entirely onboard with the new initiative. Labour MP Stella Creasy explained why this plan missed the mark.
“Sarah Everard was not on a night out, so the idea that putting plainclothes police officers in nightclubs is going to solve this problem doesn’t recognize that women get abused, assaulted, intimidated in all sorts of places,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Tuesday.
“Ask women who’ve gone for a run recently in broad daylight in their parks about their experiences and you’ll realize some of the scale of the challenge. And what strikes me is that 80% of women report being sexually harassed in public spaces but, in those surveys, 90% of them say they never report it because they don’t believe anything will change.”
This comes as the UK government is pushing a new crime bill that would largely make protests illegal and give police a lot of leeway to stop public demonstrations with very broad language.
What could happen is cops will then use their position in clubs and bars to try and enforce other laws, while potentially ignoring sexual harassment. What will happen when you put a bunch of cops in spaces for queer people & POC? Plus, who is going to protect women from the cops?