Jess Phillips: Government plan for undercover police in clubs 'simply isn't enough'

16 March 2021, 11:32

Jess Phillips told LBC the government's plans 'are not enough'
Jess Phillips told LBC the government's plan 'simply isn't enough' . Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Jess Phillips has told LBC that the government's proposed plan to have plain clothes police officers patrolling bars and nightclubs "simply isn't enough", saying she "has absolutely no idea where the plan has come from".

The Shadow Domestic Violence and Safeguarding Minister was asked on LBC News whether the plans will be enough to reassure women about their safety, to which she replied: "No, is the simple answer I'm afraid.

"I wish it would be enough but it simply isn’t and I have no idea where the plan has come from.

"This seems to me like a very rushed job, where the government were caught out after not having considered this enough and not taking proper advice from experts."

Following a meeting of the Government's Crime and Justice Taskforce chaired by the Prime Minister, Downing Street said it was taking a series of "immediate steps" to improve security.

Among them is to roll-out across the country pilots of a programme where uniformed and plain clothes officers seek to actively identify predatory and suspicious offenders in the night time economy.

Dubbed 'Project Vigilant', the programme can involve officers attending areas around clubs and bars undercover, along with increased police patrols as people leave at closing time.

Ms Phillips also commented on the practicality of the legislation, telling LBC News "I simply don't know how this is going to work."

"From what I've read, it says that undercover police officers will look out for people behaving poorly and then they will go and report it to a uniformed officer," she explained.

"But I just don't understand why a uniformed officer couldn't just take that referral from a woman herself.

"And also, what crime are they going to be charged with exactly? Because it is not illegal to harass us, pursue us, follow us down the road at the moment.

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She continued: "I don't know why the Government didn't put a street harassment law into what they are proposing because all we will have is a load of police officers saying 'careful now, don't stand over there and just leave her be.'

"Rape convictions are at an all time low, domestic abuse is rising and conviction is tumbling. Domestic homicide is at its highest.

"I have no idea why this is what the government has put forward."

Other steps unveiled by Downing Street include a doubling of the Safer Streets fund - which provides neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV - to £45 million.

It also said ministers were committed to working with police forces and with police and crime commissioners to ensure the measures were more focused on preventing sexual violence.

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Boris Johnson said it could mean siting measures in parks and routes used by women on their walks home.

"The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night. We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe," he said.

"Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them."