Police force criticised after it tells female joggers to run in groups
A police force has been criticised for urging women to go jogging in groups in order to avoid sexist abuse. The #JogOn campaign from Avon and Somerset Police aims to help women feel confident when they job in parks and footpaths.The scheme is in partnership with Bristol Zero Tolerance – whose Street Harassment project has heard from women who have felt intimidated or harassed whilst exercising.Campaign groups said female runners, who face comments such as “hey fatty, legs up, you can go faster than that’, should exercise in a group to gain confidence and help deter threatening behaviour.They are told to stay alert but not worried, to enjoy exercising and remember that safety should be the priority.However, a leading feminist has said she disagrees with the campaign, which is another way of “controlling women.”Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of nia, charity for women subjected to sexual and domestic violence, told The Telegraph: “[It is] probably a pragmatic decision for women to make but I don’t think it’s right.”Another example of how male violence is used to control and restrict all women.”Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “As a keen runner myself, getting outside and exercising is not only good for your physical health but for your happiness and wellbeing too. “Being catcalled or harassed while out exercising should not be the norm and #JogOn will hopefully empower people to put their trainers on and enjoy getting outdoors without being scared or intimidated.”The Metropolitan Police were criticised last year for advising women not to wear headphones when walking or jogging after a spate of sexual assaults.Feminists called the advice “victim-blaming” and “unrealistic” and said that it creates a “culture of fear”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.