Met Police Chief Acknowledges Mistake in Encounter with Gospel Singer on Oxford Street

Met Police Chief Acknowledges Mistake in Encounter with Gospel Singer on Oxford Street

A special constable’s attempt to stop a Christian busker, Harmonie London, from singing ‘church songs’ on Oxford Street has raised concerns.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, admitted that the special constable, Maya Hadzhipetkova, made a mistake during the encounter.

The incident, which sparked online controversy, is being viewed as a management issue.

Background and Incident Details:

Harmonie London, a 20-year-old Gospel singer with a substantial online following, was approached by special constable Hadzhipetkova.

The constable incorrectly asserted that singing ‘church songs’ outside of church grounds was not allowed.

Harmonie contested this, citing Article 9 of the Human Rights Act protecting freedom of religion.

Multiple onlookers recorded the incident, where Hadzhipetkova persisted in her incorrect assertion.

Met Commissioner’s Response:

Met Commissioner Rowley defended special constable Hadzhipetkova, stating that she was a volunteer trying her best but had made a mistake.

He expressed disappointment over the racist abuse received by Hadzhipetkova online following the incident, emphasizing the challenges faced by frontline officers dealing with public backlash.

Legal Context and Public Reaction:

The report clarifies that there is no law against singing songs, including Christian ones, on pavements in England and Wales.

The disagreement was attributed to a misunderstanding of specific bylaws related to busking.

A new video clip surfaced showing officers being criticized by a passer-by for not prioritizing more serious crimes.

Onlookers condemned the police for potentially seizing Harmonie’s equipment, calling it a waste of resources.

Busking Regulations and Harmonie’s Perspective:

The report outlines the busking regulations, highlighting that while busking is not illegal, there may be specific bylaws imposed by councils.

Harmonie, feeling threatened by the officers, expressed concerns about the allocation of police resources, emphasizing that the incident was a council problem and not a police matter.

Conclusion:

The incident on Oxford Street raises questions about police priorities, public resources, and the challenges faced by officers in managing such situations.

While acknowledging the mistake, the Met Police faces scrutiny for the handling of the encounter and the subsequent online abuse directed at the special constable.

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