'Absolutely Extraordinary': Police Detain Women’s Safety Volunteers During Coronation Crackdown
Police officers managing the crowd congestion during the Coronation Concert.
The Metropolitan Police is facing criticism after volunteers who work on women’s safety were arrested in the early hours of coronation day as they were handing out rape alarms and flip-flops
The force said that at around 2am on Saturday three people were stopped by officers and arrested in the Soho area of central London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.
Among items seized were a number of rape alarms, the force said.
It comes as the force faces criticism for its “heavy-handed” policing as it made 64 arrests on coronation day, with 46 people bailed after being detained on suspicion of causing a public nuisance or breaching the peace.
The Met said it “received intelligence that indicated groups and individuals seeking to disrupt today’s coronation proceedings were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the procession”.
The three people – a 37-year-old woman, a 59-year-old woman and a 47-year-old man – were taken to a south London police station, where they were questioned.
The 47-year-old man was also further arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, police said.
All three have since been released on bail pending further inquiries.
They were volunteers with Night Stars, which is part of Westminster council’s night safety campaign.
According to the council’s website, Night Star volunteers are “focused on working with the West End’s evening and night-time economy businesses to promote women’s safety and reduce violence against women and girls”.
Caroline Russell said the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee that she chairs will be questioning the Met over the “worrying” arrests.
City of Westminster night safety team arrested for possession of rape alarms?
How do agencies working to keep people safe on the streets at night get caught in the Met’s security net? https://t.co/epqAsMdo27
— Caroline Russell (@CarolineRussell) May 6, 2023
The Green politician told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “It seems absolutely extraordinary that those people who were volunteering, they were out there handing out flip-flops to people who could no longer walk in their high heels because they’d had a bit too much to drink and handing out rape alarms. It just seems extraordinary that they got caught up in the Met’s safety net. How? It just feels very odd.”
Councillor Aicha Less, cabinet member for communities and public protection at Westminster City Council, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of our Night Stars volunteers being arrested overnight.
“This service has been a familiar and welcome sight in the West End for a long time and have extensive training so they can assist the most vulnerable on the streets late at night.
“We are working with the Metropolitan Police to establish exactly what happened, and in the meantime, we are in touch with our volunteers to ensure they are receiving the support they need.”
Deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “The intelligence we received led us to be extremely worried about the potential risk to public safety.
“We are aware of and understand there is public concern over these arrests. However, the matter is still under investigation.”