All charges dropped against disabled ‘sticker woman’ – along with our trust in Gwent Police

Merched Cymru, Women’s Rights Network Wales, LGB Alliance Cymru, Labour Women’s Declaration and the Women’s Declaration International are very pleased to announce that Jennifer Swayne will face no charges as a result of her arrest for placing stickers promoting women’s rights concerns around Newport.

Jen was arrested on January 23 and was due to answer her bail on April 11, after it had been extended on two previous occasions. Our groups have been supporting her during this time.

We are advised that the decision has been made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after examining the evidence put forward by Gwent Police.

It has come as no surprise to us that there is insufficient evidence to charge her with this offence – it is our view that her arrest was a disproportionate and excessive use of police powers, which was further exacerbated by her being kept in a cell, her phone seized, and her house searched. We are glad that the CPS, at least, appears to agree with us on this.

It is therefore shocking to read the comment of an Inspector in his notification of no charges to Jen’s solicitor: “May I stress to Miss Swayne that whilst on this occasion, the CPS have decided on no further action, the police will respond and deal with any future reports in a similar way and will where necessary seek future CPS advice for any future occurrences”. This would suggest that Gwent Police officers have learnt nothing from this disgraceful episode.

This is a particularly heinous comment considering that police are yet to make any arrests for the stickers placed by individuals, which contain pictures of guns warning women to “shut the fuck up”. Perhaps Gwent Police consider women speaking up for their rights to be more dangerous than violent threats to silence women.

We want to thank all those women, and male allies, who have attended to support Jen at the rallies held at Newport and who have sent messages of support. We will continue to be here for her and for all women in a similar position. We would also once again like to thank the speakers who attended these events for their presence and their words.

Above all though, we want to thank Jen – for her dignity and forbearance in the face of significant pressure and strain and her advocacy for women and girls.

Gwent Police, you have let down women. We will be watching and we will not forget. Our groups extended an invitation to work with you to help you improve, we are still waiting for your response. That invitation still stands – over to you.

Jen has been through a terrible ordeal, waiting to hear her fate through a long, overly drawn-out process and also having to deal with press releases from Gwent Police that falsely linked her to malicious urban myths of glass and sharp items being concealed under stickers with the intent to cause harm to others. This has been an egregious case and one that we hope Gwent Police will reflect on and learn from.