Friday, June 25, 2021
HomeMet under pressure to explain ‘deeply disturbing’ scenes at Sarah Everard vigil

Met under pressure to explain ‘deeply disturbing’ scenes at Sarah Everard vigil

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The Metropolitan Police force is under intense pressure to explain its handling of a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard with Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick urged to consider her position.

The event in Clapham, south London was largely peaceful, but scuffles broke out at the front of a crowd as police surrounded a bandstand covered in floral tributes to the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Male officers could be seen grabbing hold of several women before leading them away in handcuffs, to shouts and screams from onlookers.

In the early hours of Sunday, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said police were put into a position “where enforcement action was necessary”, adding that four arrests were made for public order offences and breaches of coronavirus regulations.

Sarah Everard death / PA Wire

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.”

The assembled crowd chanted “shame on you” as police led people away at the vigil, while during another confrontation a distressed woman could be heard telling officers “you’re supposed to protect us”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel described footage from the vigil as “upsetting”, adding: “I have asked the Metropolitan Police for a full report on what happened.”

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.”

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