Against the backdrop of police brutality at the vigil for Sarah Everard, Rights of Women is deeply concerned to read the proposals of the Government’s Crime and Justice Taskforce to deploy both uniformed and plain clothes officers being in pubs, bars and clubs, ostensibly to protect women from violence.
This move represents a further and highly unwelcome expansion of police presence into our everyday lives – despite a sorry history of violence against women at the hands of the police.
Hannah Couchman, Senior Legal Officer at Rights of Women, said:
“The vigil for Sarah Everard is the most recent example of the state’s role in violence against women and girls – it is unconscionable for the Government to suggest that the solution to the harassment and violence women face on a daily basis is to introduce more police. Black and minoritised women already experience intrusive over-policing, and it is all too well known that plain clothes can afford the police cover to abuse their powers. For many women, the police do not represent safety or reassurance – instead, oppression and brutality.
At Rights of Women, we regularly hear from women who have been let down and re-traumatised by their contact with the police and the wider criminal justice system. Rather than extending the power and presence of the police – as we are seeing here and under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – the Government needs to devote resources to empowering survivors to access justice and safety, and to addressing the structural inequalities that lie at the heart of endemic violence against women and girls.
For decades, frontline organisations supporting women who have experienced violence have been subject to deeply damaging underfunding – particularly those services run by and for Black and minoritised communities. The call from the women’s sector is not for the gimmicks we have seen proposed by the taskforce, and it certainly isn’t for more police – the solutions are far more complex and they start with listening to the needs of survivors”.