Portsmouth leader reports personal '˜harassment campaign' by domestic abuse protesters to Hampshire Police
THE leader of Portsmouth City Council has reported to police what she calls a prolonged '˜harassment' campaign she says she's suffered at the hands of domestic abuse protesters.
Councillor Donna Jones says she raised concerns to Hampshire Constabulary as she feared a confetti gun fired during a debate over the budget, which included plans to take £130,000 away from the domestic abuse team, was aimed at her.
She says that was just one example of where campaigners had targeted her, and that she had received a barrage of abuse on Twitter.
The senior councillor says ‘militant feminist group’ Sisters Uncut is to blame.
But Sisters Uncut described Cllr Jones’ allegations as ‘criminal’ when its cause is to protect vulnerable women.
But Cllr Jones said: ‘We have had democracy compromised in Portsmouth.
‘The police are now involved. We’ve had to make 999 calls at two consecutive meetings.
‘There has been a sustained campaign growing over the last six months, fuelled by certain people in the city. I had over 200 messages, which is tantamount to harassment.
‘I’ve been chased across Guildhall Square and spat at, ironically by a male protester.
‘Then in the next meeting, as I stood up to speak to address the petition over domestic abuse, confetti was fired at me.
‘The police then asked to come and see me, they wanted to discuss my personal security.’
Cllr Jones ruled out hiring a bodyguard, but said she would be ‘extra vigilant’ carrying out her duties.
She added: ‘I appreciate people have the right to protest.
‘However, I feel a line needs to be drawn between what is appropriate protest and thwarting democracy and disrupting public meetings by firing things across the council chamber.’
A Sisters Uncut member said: ‘Domestic violence is not a joke. It’s not a political game.
‘We’re not here to score media points with Donna Jones on who can smear who more. We’re here for women’s lives.
‘Two women a week are being murdered by partners or ex-partners.
‘This doesn’t include the women who commit suicide because they are trapped with abusive, violent partners.
‘Domestic violence is increasing under austerity.
‘We think it’s criminal that politicians like Donna are framing legitimate protest as harassment when it is her cuts that will force women to remain in abusive relationships.
‘It is her cuts that will force women to choose between homelessness and violence.
‘It’s her cuts that will mean women cannot get to safety from abuse.
‘What world do we live in where this is legitimate politics and confetti is harassment?’
They added: ‘We received an email from a sector worker who was at risk of losing their job because of the cuts, hence it would have been from a worker working for a service funded by the council.’
A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said: ‘I can confirm that Chief Inspector James Pegler met Donna Jones following the full council meeting to discuss her concerns.
‘Material is being reviewed but no formal complaint has been received at this stage.
‘Hampshire Constabulary will continue to work closely with Portsmouth City Council to help ensure protests are peaceful and, where alleged crimes are reported, we will investigate.’