Saturday, June 12, 2021
HomeEnforcement at vigil for Sarah Everard was necessary, police say

Enforcement at vigil for Sarah Everard was necessary, police say

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Police at a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard were “placed in a position where enforcement was necessary”, Scotland Yard said amid pressure to explain its handling of the event.

A crowd gathered at Clapham Common to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive but scuffles broke out as police surrounded a bandstand covered in flowers left in tribute.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police were seen grabbing several women, leading them away in handcuffs and the force later said four people were arrested for public order and coronavirus regulation breaches.

But there has been condemnation of the policing of the vigil, with Home Secretary Priti Patel seeking a full report on events.

She described footage from the vigil as “upsetting”, while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called on Commissioner Cressida Dick to “consider” her leadership of the force.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the scenes were “unacceptable”, tweeting: “The police have a responsibility to enforce Covid laws but from images I’ve seen it’s clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate.”

In the early hours of Sunday, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said police were put into a position “where enforcement action was necessary”.

She said: “Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.

“Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.

“Those who gathered were spoken to by officers on a number of occasions and over an extended period of time. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave. Regrettably, a small minority of people began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items.”

Police officers form a line as people gather in Clapham Common / PA Wire

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