Police apologise after 'victim blaming' Facebook post

28 November 2019, 07:00

Police have apologised for their comments
Police have apologised for their comments. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Nottinghamshire Police has come under fire after suggesting women should not walk alone at night because they are at risk of “physical assault”.

Facebook users hit out at the force accusing them of blaming victims, and not doing enough to educate men.

In a message on Facebook, the force said females could be harassed or even attacked if they decided to walk the streets by themselves.

The comments were made after reports a woman was being followed by a man in the area last week.

The post, which has since been deleted, said: "Taking a risk when it comes to walking alone at night is not one of those things we should be doing.

"Women who walk alone especially at night are at risk of harassment, or even physical assault.

"It is always best to walk with someone, or in an area where there are other people.

"But even with the best planning there will likely come a time you will need to walk somewhere alone at night.

"Whether it's to your car after a late night at the office, heading to your car after a late-night store run, or walking home from the public bus station, you may find yourself out at night alone."

One woman, who replied to the post, said: "When I read this, all I feel is fear and am reminded again, that as a woman I'm not supposed to be in public spaces."

Another social media user said: "May I politely remind you it is 2019 and we no longer blame women for whatever crime has been committed against them?"

Helen Voce, chief executive of Nottingham Women's Centre, told the BBC she was astonished by the post.

"It felt like a 1980s thing; it is so condescending, blaming women for going out and it's so sexist about us coming back from the shops," she said.

"I think it makes women feel like it's their fault and that's ridiculous."

Ms Voce said police should be giving men advice on how to make women feel safer at night.

"It's men that need to change their behaviour."

A police spokesman said: "We recognise this was a clumsy attempt to communicate an incident with the underlying intention of keeping people safe.

"The post was swiftly deleted as soon as it was brought to our attention.

"Feedback has been provided and we would apologise unreservedly for any offence caused."