Pensioner ‘harassed’ by police over sticker backing single-sex spaces

A 73-year-old woman has been questioned by the police after taking a photo of a sticker stating “keep males out of women-only spaces”.

The retired social worker found the sticker placed over a poster claiming “Stand By Your Trans” in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, but did not share her picture of it on social media. Several days later, police officers visited her home and recorded it as a ‘non-crime hate incident’.

According to police records, the officers gave her “words of advice” regarding the “harassment and alarm that this sticker could potentially cause to the community”.


Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, the woman who was afraid of revealing her identity said: “They gave me a long lecture about the sensitivity of the issue, and how something like this could cause harassment and alarm to the community. They were investigating it as a hate crime, which is outrageous. I was in a state of shock.”

I think they wanted to correct my thinking.

She added: “I think they wanted to correct my thinking. They are getting involved in a very divided and toxic debate, but it’s not their role to arbitrate political disagreements. I felt as if they were trying to gag a dissenting voice by harassing me in my own home.”

Writing in The Daily Express, former Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe asked the police “what about the harassment and alarm you caused to this poor woman who is now afraid of trolling if her identity gets out?”

Responding on X, formerly Twitter, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “This is exactly what I had in mind when writing to police chiefs and commissioning the @HMICFRS review over forces straying into politically contentious matters.”


In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mrs Braverman explained she has ordered Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke to investigate the effect of such cases on “public confidence on perceptions with the police and effectiveness”.

She said: “In recent years, we’ve seen an unacceptable rise in police partisanship and the police straying into politically-contested areas”. Instead, it should “adopt a position of strict neutrality, even if that may mean offending some parts of society”.

“What’s crystallised it in my mind is meeting hundreds of rank-and-file cops who have said they’re fed up with the virtue signalling that some police leaders have been spending their time on, instead of focusing on back-to-basics crime”.

‘Grossly insulting’

Writing to Chief Constables across England and Wales, the Home Secretary emphasised that “officers should not be wearing or waving badges or flags that undermine their oath of impartiality or which may lead members of the public to question their impartiality.

“I would also like to remind forces that holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offence”.

“And lastly, it is worth remembering that silent prayer, in itself, is not unlawful”.

Silent prayer

On 6 December, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for praying silently near an abortion centre in Birmingham. She was subsequently charged with “protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users”, despite the centre being closed at the time.

The Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charges, and a judge fully vindicated her in February.

The Government’s Public Order Act came into force in May, criminalising prayer and offers of help to women near abortion clinics in England and Wales.

MPs had rejected an amendment to the Bill clarifying that “a person engaged in consensual communication or silent prayer” within such zones would not be committing an offence.

Aligned to causes

Last month, Britain’s top police chief warned officers that they must remain impartial on duty by not expressing support for particular causes.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley explained that while “engaging with communities to understand what worries them is not ‘woke’”, starting to “align yourself to causes is not something policing should be doing”.

Also see:

Police Scotland

PSNI ‘Pride’ marchers no longer allowed to wear uniform

Report: ‘British police in free speech crisis’

Police Scotland logged over 900 non-crime ‘hate’ cases in 2021

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