Did the Met police act appropriately at Sarah Everard vigil? UK watchdog releases findings

LONDON (CU)_Disclosing findings of the review conducted on the policing of the London vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, a UK police watchdog said on Tuesday (30 March) that the officers had behaved appropriately when they broke up the crowds who gathered on 13 March on London’s Clapham Common.

The review conducted by the official policing inspectorate concluded that the officers were “justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore when planning for and policing the event”.

Everard, a 33-year-old London resident, went missing on 3 March while walking down a south London street. Her body was found a week later in woodland more than 50 miles away, and a serving Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with her murder.

Subsequently, hundreds of people gathered on London’s Clapham Common on 13 March to remember Everard and protest against violence against women, despite stay-at-home restrictions on account of the pandemic. It was the images of police officers clashing with women at the peaceful rally, and leading some away in handcuffs, that prompted widespread criticism.

This led to the review which was headed by Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, who revealed on Tuesday that after a review of hundreds of documents, and videos obtains from police body cameras and other footage of the vigil releases by media, it was determined that the Metropolitan Police had acted in a “measured and proportionate” manner in the “challenging circumstances”.

“Police officers at the vigil did their best to peacefully disperse the crowd; police officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse; and police officers did not act inappropriately or in a heavy-handed manner,” he said.

However, campaigners say the report is disappointing, with Reclaim These Streets, the group which called the London vigil, saying the findings demonstrated that “institutional sexism running through the force.”

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