I watched the news late last night and was struck by a variety of emotions. Watching some of the footage was definitely shocking but it was clearly a really challenging situation for the police.
After more than 20 years working in the police I have seen behind the scenes of what happens in the days before a mass gathering. Days of discussion, planning, thought about approaches and negotiation with organisers. The police have a difficult job of allowing people to gather for whatever reason but also to balance the other considerations which in this case were the Covid-19 restrictions.
But the shocking events this week have shone a light on the situations women face every day on the streets. I too have run down the street to reach my car, avoided going to certain places, have been shouted at in the streets and have felt threatened. This doesn’t just happen in the streets though but in workplaces and for many in the home.
I may have been miles away but I lit a candle last night and thought about Sarah and all the women that are in terrible situations. Over my time in policing I had to learn about many women who suffered horrendous injuries or who lost their lives in attacks. My candle was for all of them and their loved ones.
Over the past year there have been many gatherings that have taken place without clashes with police. The police were also absent from the packed supermarkets thronging with people as I drove past yesterday. So it makes the scenes last night more upsetting and seemingly out of place.
I would have hoped that there could have been a compromise ahead of the event that would have allowed it to take place in a responsible and socially distanced way. Negotiations are always the positive position to take and I have seen it work in many cases over the years. What matters now is how the situation is now managed and the police will have lots of footage from body worn video that may assist them in discussing their response.
What matters now is that the voices that have started to speak out are heard, and that change happens.