The UK government recently announced its plan to increase security at bars and clubs with the use of undercover cops, also known as plainclothes police officers. Officials also plan to increase funding to provide better lighting and video surveillance in public spaces.
This plan comes as a response to the death of marketing executive Sarah Everard, 33, who went missing on March 3 after hanging out with a friend in London. The homicide case sparked local outrage and prompted a global conversation about women's safety.
Ironically, the main suspect in Everard’s case is a police officer. With that in mind, how exactly does the UK government expect women to feel comfortable with more police at clubs in London?
UK officials have the right goal but the wrong strategy. Having more officers in plain clothes will not make women feel more comfortable. Speaking from personal experience, police often make me feel less comfortable. Once again, this is an example of the road to hell sometimes being paved with good intentions.
The police should just monitor these types of public spaces in full uniform. Officers in uniform can actually prevent sexual assault and harassment against women; in plain clothes, they can only try to stop harassment after it has already started.
Unfortunately, this plan just seems like another way for police officers to further harass the general public. Police already have a bad reputation in the public eye, so they should focus on repairing the damage they've already done. I hope American police departments don't adopt a similar plan.
This policy will not address the real issue of predatory men in our communities, and sending out undercover officers will not even begin to help us get to the root of the problem.
The money the UK government is spending to implement this plan could be used for far more beneficial community resources, including anti-harassment tools or prevention training for the public. Even funding self-defense courses for women would be more beneficial than putting cops in plain clothes.
Police in plain clothes will be monitoring women, but they need to be focused on the predatory men. Many women might feel suffocated in public spaces under this policy; they should not have to be oppressed in public places because predatory men do not know how to behave.
As the rise of sexual assaults and harassment continues, police need to come up with more intricate and improved plans. Old-fashioned policing and policies will not go far in this day and age, especially when they continue to turn a blind eye to the real problem.
Tamia Southall is a 20-year-old mass communication junior from New Orleans.