Socialist Worker

Police forced to apologise for telling disabled woman to stop sitting on bench

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2701

The police have had to apologise to Kiki

The police have had to apologise to Kiki


Police in Scotland have been forced to apologise after an officer told a disabled woman she couldn’t sit on a park bench.

Kiki was in Queen’s Park in Glasgow with her son, who has autism, on Tuesday. “We’ve been going to the park every day partly to create a new routine for him,” Kiki told Socialist Worker.

“He has been unsettled because his routine has been disrupted. And he needs daily exercise, otherwise he will be hyper. But because I have mobility problems, the only way I can take him is if I can sit down.”

Kiki said the benches in the park aren’t taped up and that there is “no indication” that they shouldn’t be used.

“On this particular day the police shouted to me that I can’t sit down and we have to move,” she said. “I explained that I had a disability. He could see I had a walking stick and a child with me.

“He said it doesn’t matter, it’s the same for everybody. But it’s not the same for everybody because not everybody needs to sit down.

“I took it as basically saying disabled people can’t enter the park.”

Kikis son has been unsettled by the change in his routine

Kiki's son has been unsettled by the change in his routine


Guidelines in Scotland say that people should observe social distancing when out of their homes. But police later told Kiki that the officer was wrong to say she could not sit on a bench.

“I’ve seen the guidelines,” she said. “And how some officers are interpreting them is way over the top.

“I put a complaint in with Police Scotland and heard back the next day. The officer I spoke to apologised for the behaviour of the officer.”

Kiki said the problem is that many people don’t know what they are allowed to do. And for people with disabilities or other additional needs, this can cause stress.

“There are people sitting in their homes who are blind who think they can’t go out at all,” she said. “Adults who have additional needs such as autism or ADHD aren’t fully understanding the guidelines. Many feel quite fearful of going out. A lot of people live on their own and are not getting support.”

Kiki said the government needs to be much clearer about what people’s rights are – and take disabled people into account. “The confusion is causing people quite a lot of anxiety,” she said.

“You’re not hearing anything from the government about people with disabilities or additional needs. The fact that there’s this oversight just shows how it’s kind of an afterthought.

“As if this is just a small part of society that doesn’t really matter – that’s what it comes across as.”

Kiki is the second disabled woman to complain about police behaviour in Queen’s Park. Lauren, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, said officers asked her to leave the park after she stopped for a rest on a bench.

You’re not hearing anything from the government about people with disabilities or additional needs. The fact that there’s this oversight just shows how it’s kind of an afterthought.

Kiki said it is only a minority of cops who are taking a heavy-handed approach to the coronavirus regulations. But she warned it could have a big impact.

“I feel wary of going back to the same park but I also feel indignant,” she said. “It’s my human right to sit down. But not everyone will realise that, and they might just not go out again.

“If anyone has a similar experience, I would encourage them to take the officer’s registration number and name, and make a complaint.”


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