Yesterday Reclaim These Streets were invited to meet with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Deputy Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden, and London Victims’ Commissioner Claire Waxman and later with Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Mayor Sadiq Khan cleared his diary in the morning for an hour-long discussion with women from Reclaim These Streets, where we discussed our experience of planning the original event and the heavy-handed approach to policing Saturday’s protest. At the advice of the Mayor and his team, we will be submitting evidence to HMIC’s investigation of the police regarding our experience planning the original event and encourage any women who experienced police violence at the protest to seek legal advice in line with what we have shared on social media, and to also contact the Independent Office of Police Complaints.
Here are our 4 key asks of the Mayor of London to help keep women in the capital safe:
- A Violence Against Women and Girls strategy for London that is co-owned by the Metropolitan Police, with meaningful funding behind it and a commitment to record misogyny as a hate crime.
- A ring-fenced fund for specialist domestic and sexual violence organisations led by Women of Colour, to enable them to access the money they need to protect all women in the capital.
- For the Mayor to back calls to criminalise street sexual harassment.
- To demand Commissioner Cressida Dick commit to training for every police officer in the Metropolitan Police on misogyny, sexism and meaningful anti-racism training delivered locally.
In the afternoon we met with Commissioner Dick and other officials of the Metropolitan Police. Despite this issue being top of the news agenda and our flexibility with timings, she provided us just 15 minutes of her time to discuss both the right to protest and women’s safety.
We pressed the Commissioner for a clear answer on what an acceptable form of a vigil would be under the legislation, and she refused to provide an answer. The Court judgment by Justice Holgate on Friday emphasised that protest is legal under the Covid regulations, and that the balancing of this right with the pandemic situation is down to a negotiation between the police and organisers. It is clear from the scenes on Saturday and since that the Metropolitan Police’s actions are putting the safety of women exercising their right to protest at risk and we are considering our legal options.
We asked Commissioner Dick to waive the fines of women who attended the vigil at Clapham Common on Saturday, but she flat out refused, even though it was her force’s decisions that forced women into this position.
As organisers, we believe we have given Commissioner Dick and the Metropolitan Police more than enough opportunities to demonstrate that they are committed to policing by consent and allowing people to use their rights. She has lost our confidence in her ability to lead the urgent changes needed to tackle institutional misogyny and racism in the Metropolitan Police, and she has clearly lost the confidence of London’s women too, and we urge her to consider her position.