Councillor defends police over action on 'controversial' 'Women Won't Wheesht' stickers

Police appealed for information on stickers about women's rights found on a Kirkcaldy street because they were "concerned about the message", a Fife councillor has suggested.

SNP Glenrothes Central member Ross Vettraino has defended the actions of police who asked members of the public to report the fly-posting of stickers in support of "Women Won't Wheesht" after they faced a social media pile-on for doing so.

Local officers running the Kirkcaldy Police account later deleted a tweet in which they had branded the adhesive labels "controversial" and asked residents to report them.

Police Scotland has since confirmed that no criminality took place.

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The 'Women Won't Wheesht' stickers put on lamp-posts on a Kirkcaldy street
The 'Women Won't Wheesht' stickers put on lamp-posts on a Kirkcaldy street

The stickers, found on lampposts on Viewforth Avenue, supported the gender-critical women's rights group For Women Scotland (FWS) and were labelled with the hashtag #IAmTheStorm, along with other tags criticising 'self-ID.’

At a meeting of Fife Council on Thursday, Fife Conservatives group leader, Dave Dempsey, questioned why the police and council had been "actively canvassing information" on the stickers and not taking action on others - such as those promoting the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

Cllr Vettraino responded: "I was unaware there were newly applied stickers to lamp posts in the Viewforth Avenue area of Kirkcaldy, nor was I aware that there are stickers from the 2014 referendum on council signs.

"Consequently, I don't know why Police Scotland were actively canvassing information on the former, although it may be that Police Scotland was concerned about the message that was being promoted, but had no concern about the message being promoted by the latter.

"In any event, in the circumstances, Cllr Dempsey may choose to direct his query to Police Scotland."

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Cllr Dempsey suggested that the SNP councillor, who serves as the council administration's environment spokesperson, ought to "increase his level of awareness" of such issues.

Cllr Vettraino added: "Most of my time is taken trying to keep up a high level of awareness of the areas for which I am responsible.

"Council signs and lampposts are the responsibility of the council's spokesperson on transportation [Cllr Altany Craik]. I am sure he is well up to date with all of the issues."

Responding to a request for comment from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he restated his view that the police will have had their reasons to investigate.

"I was simply saying that I was neither unaware that there were newly applied stickers on lampposts nor that police had actively canvassed information in respect of them," he said.

"I ventured the view, if they had done so, that it may have been because they were concerned about whatever message was being promoted."

Trina Budge, a director at For Women Scotland, said: "The Women Won't Wheesht stickers convey the message that women will not be quiet about our rights in law and public policy.

"The idea that this is in any way 'concerning' or 'controversial' is absurd.

"It is quite chilling that Kirkcaldy police considered them worthy of investigation for 'hate' and we were pleased to see them, quite rightly, back down from this stance."

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