plain-clothes officers

Plain-clothes officers in bars and clubs will do nothing to make women feel safer

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?

Last night the government announced a new policy involving plain-clothes police officers patrolling bars and clubs as a way to keep women safe from predatory offenders. The new measure is part of a plan from the government to make women feel safer following the tragic death of Sarah Everard. Other parts of the plan include a £45million investment into better lighting and CCTV in parks and other routes women may use. And this is a great step. But putting undercover police officers, regardless of their gender, into bars and clubs will do nothing to make women feel safe.

The policy appears to be a quick fix to a deeply ingrained societal problem that will unfortunately take years to solve. It’s the government’s way of appearing to care about women without actually addressing the real problem – male violence and privilege. Yet again it is about women being policed and watched and not changing male behaviour. The money used to pay the officers for patrolling clubs would be far better invested in educating young men and boys about consent and respect for women.

We have been calling for better protection and policies in clubs and bars for what feels like forever, and plain-clothes officers will do nothing to solve this problem. A few police officers does not stop men thinking they have the right to grope a woman in the middle of a bar. A few police officers does not stop a man quickly slipping a date rape drug into someone’s drink. A few police officers does not stop a man following a woman around the club and harassing her even though she told him no. These problems have long affected women in clubs, bars and pubs and women often approach bouncers sharing the harassment they face to either be told there’s no evidence so nothing they can do or simply laughed at. How are undercover officers going to make any difference to this?

It’s a scary thought to realise non police officers could use this policy to their advantage and prey on women by pretending to be an under cover police officer. What’s to stop a man taking a drunk girl out of a club, claiming he’s helping her because he’s a police officer? Or the very frightening reality that actually an undercover cop could be doing this themselves?

And then of course there’s the police force’s very real lack of respect for women. It’s insulting and a glaring oversight from the government to think women are going to feel safe in a club just because there are police there when one of their own is being charged for the murder of Sarah Everard. Not only that but police officers arrested women paying their respects at her vigil – Winston Churchill’s statue has received more protection than women at the vigils. And yesterday there was the disturbing news that a Met police officer shared a disgusting meme of an officer abducting a woman in a WhatsApp chat whilst at the site of Sarah’s remains. This is in the last week alone.

Before this week there have been countless incidents of the police showing they do not care about women – last year two police officers took selfies next to the bodies of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. And yet the government expect us to trust the police to keep us safe?

We appreciate the lights and CCTV, but now could you focus on the actual issue of ending male violence?

Featured image credit: Alexander Popov on Unsplash  

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