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30 Mar, 2021 13:13

Met Police handling of vigil for murdered Londonder Sarah Everard was ‘appropriate,’ review finds

Met Police handling of vigil for murdered Londonder Sarah Everard was ‘appropriate,’ review finds

An inquiry into the police’s handling of a vigil at Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard on March 13 has found that London’s law enforcement officers “acted appropriately” despite widespread criticism.

The review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that while some aspect of the vigil’s policing could have been improved, the force “was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting Covid-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore.” 

The report, which analysed hours of police body camera footage and hundreds of documents, contended that “officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse” and “did not act inappropriately or in a heavy-handed manner.” 

HMICFRS also concluded that the officers “did their level best to disperse the crowd” and only did so at a time when the public health risk became too great for the gathering to remain safe. 

The review body added that the police should have adopted “a more conciliatory response” given the sensitivity of the situation and that there was poor communication between law enforcement commanders as events on the ground developed. 

Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, welcomed the report, noting: “Public confidence in the police is critical. It is therefore important that there has been an independent, objective, evidence-based inspection to provide public reassurance, which we provide today.”  

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The vigil, which hadn’t been approved due to Covid-19 restrictions, took place on the evening of March 13 for murdered Londoner Sarah Everard. The police made a number of arrests after those gathered refused to disperse.

Footage of police detaining women at the vigil, many of whom were protesting for more action on violence against women, went viral and attracted a flood of criticism directed at the capital’s law enforcement officers. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he was “deeply concerned” by the footage. 

London’s largely revered police chief, Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, even faced calls to resign amid the backlash. But a YouGov poll from mid-March suggested the public backed the capital’s policing boss, with only 23% saying she should resign.

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