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Street performer told she "cannot sing her songs outside of church grounds"

Freedom of Speech
31 January 2024
Oxford Street London Jay Wennington Unsplash

Photo by Jay Wennington

This week, Harmonie London, a 20-year-old gospel singer with over 300,000 YouTube subscribers, experienced a confrontation with a volunteer police officer while performing on Oxford Street.

The officer told her that singing church songs outside church grounds was not allowed, a claim that Harmonie contested as violating her freedom of religion protected under Article 9 of the Human Rights Act.

This encounter, which included the officer sticking her tongue out at Harmonie, was filmed by onlookers.

The area where Harmonie was singing falls under Westminster City Council's jurisdiction, where busking requires a 'light touch licensing scheme'.

Among those commenting on the incident, former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe criticised the officer's actions, stating there was no legal basis to stop Harmonie from singing.

Norman Brennan, an anti-crime campaigner and former police officer, expressed concern over the incident's impact on public perception of the police saying, "Folks this is not a good look. Some of us are trying hard to help policing get back [lost] public support, respect and confidence and this does not help."

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, praised Harmonie's singing as a positive influence on the streets.

"She blesses tens of thousands of people in the same way and brings harmony to the streets. We need more of this, not less. It is shocking that she has been treated like this."

Former Metropolitan Police detective Peter Bleksley and former Home Office special adviser Claire Pearsall also commented on the incident, questioning the priorities of police enforcement.

Harmonie London is known for her Christian street performances and has a significant social media presence. Her video of the confrontation garnered significant attention online. Scotland Yard confirmed they are reviewing the incident to understand its context.

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