Much to the dismay of the security staff at Labour Party Conference, like thousands of other women, I carry a personal alarm in my handbag. Discovered as I entered the secure zone, said illegal item had to be reported to the supervisor and then confiscated. I tried to reason that should I want to interrupt a speech in the main hall I could do so just as effectively shouting at the top of my lungs but they remained unconvinced and the alarm was removed from my possession. Irritating but I could understand where they were coming from.
However, what was more irritating was when I went to collect my alarm before going home. After a lengthy search the alarm was produced but rather than trusting that I was in fact leaving the complex and heading home, I had to be escorted out of the secure zone and my alarm was only returned once I had passed through the security barriers. They wouldn’t even trust me to with it as I went through the gate, rather they had to squeeze it through the barrier once I had exited, ensuring me and my illicit alarm were not reunited until firmly evicted.
If I was a braver individual I would have tugged the cord and flung the shrieking alarm (which for male readers who may be unfamiliar with how these things work, once triggered can’t be silenced) back into the secure zone. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) the adult in me prevailed and realising the security incident and ensuing lifetime ban from Conference that would have resulted from my act of rebellion, I let the opportunity for revenge pass.
All the same, a woman should not be made to feel like a criminal for carrying a personal alarm, perhaps something Conference organisers could remember for next year?