Scotland Yard is currently conducting an investigation into a special constable, Maya Hadzhipetkova, after a dispute arose with gospel singer Harmonie London on Oxford Street over the weekend.
Body-worn footage of the incident is under review.
Volunteer officer Hadzhipetkova reportedly told the Christian busker that she was ‘not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds.’
The incident, captured on camera, drew widespread condemnation and sparked a heated debate.
Anti-crime campaigner Norman Brennan, Christian Concern’s Andrea Williams, and former Home Office special adviser Claire Pearsall joined others in criticizing the officer’s actions.
Former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe called for her removal from the voluntary force.
The confrontation raises questions about the legality of singing on public pavements, with Hadzhipetkova’s actions being challenged as an infringement on freedom of religion.
The Met Police acknowledges that the officer could have handled the situation differently.
Human Rights Concerns:
Harmonie London argues that the incident breached her human right to freedom of religion, citing Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Met Police is examining the context of the comments made during the interaction.
Maya Hadzhipetkova, a volunteer officer, has faced criticism for her actions.
She has worked in various roles, including as a pub manager, and has lived in Bulgaria and Cyprus before relocating to the UK.
Oxford Street falls under Westminster City Council’s busking and street entertainment regulated zones.
The policy includes a ‘light touch licensing scheme,’ restricting busking to designated pitches.
However, there are no laws against singing on pavements.
Police Response and Social Media Backlash:
The Met Police is reviewing a more than 40-minute-long body-worn video of the incident and acknowledges that the officer could have handled it differently.
However, the police also condemned some ‘unacceptable’ social media posts targeting Hadzhipetkova.
Impact on Busker and Special Constables:
Harmonie London, a popular Christian street singer, has garnered substantial support on social media.
The incident raises broader questions about the responsibilities and actions of special constables, who volunteer alongside regular officers.
Recent years have seen instances of heavy-handed policing of buskers, with this incident adding to the ongoing debate about the regulation of public performances.
The controversy surrounding busking enforcement has previously sparked public outrage and calls for a balanced approach.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn