Opinion: Coppers in Clubs – an out of touch response to a problem far greater

 

Police and politicians are under strain, it has been a damning few weeks for both UK policymakers and those tasked with protecting the public. The death of Sarah Everard has sent shockwaves through communities across the country; many women feel unsafe and threatened in the aftermath of a murder which has demonstrated just how vulnerable women are on the streets of the UK.

It’s frankly horrible – this week I’ve had conversations with friends, family members and colleagues who have all personally experienced abuse, assault and harassment whilst out and about in public. Each has their own experience, their own tale or story, in parks, on buses, in bars, restaurants, gyms, libraries and in clubs. Perpetrators are appallingly getting away with it and at present the bottom line is that women are potentially unsafe, everywhere. 

It is for this reason that the Government’s latest bill makes little sense in many respects. As part of a wave of strict new measures came the announcement that plain clothes police officers will soon be actively deployed to police nightclubs, bars and pubs across the UK. It’s a measure which seems not only totalitarian but out of touch with the wider purpose, point or principles required to implement wider safety measures for women.

There has been much anger circulating online in the aftermath of the announcement from campaigners who feel that this is just the latest in a series of out of touch policies designed to placate rather than tackle what is a much broader issue. In truth what this is is an attempt to police the night time economy, a decision which will have dire consequences for a sector which has already been closed for over a year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the lockdown, which commenced in March 2020, there were over 179,000 recorded sexual offences committed in the UK in the previous year alone, a statistic which has almost tripled since the early 2000s. This in and of itself indicates the far reaching extent of what is a far broader problem than that of the proposed new policies. Policies which seem overly focussed on heavy handedly policing one particular sector rather than tackling the societal problems and inadequacies of the prosecution process from which such behaviour stems.

If men are allowed to think that they can get away with it then we will be stuck in this mess for forever. This has nothing to do with sending a few coppers in to bounce the club for the night, that’s just sweeping the issue under the rug. If you want to know how you can really help then try asking those women who’ve been let down time and time again, let them tell you how they feel about it and find out for yourself if now is the time to be sending bobbies to police beats.