Police defend decision to break up Sarah Everard vigil over ‘real Covid risk’

The Metropolitan Police has stood by their decision to break up a vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, who disappeared close to Clapham Common on March 3.

Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said the event, which was cancelled but still attended by hundreds of mourners, posed a "very real risk" of "transmitting" Covid.

Ms Ball said people were allowed to gather for "over six hours" before "more people began to gather" and make speeches, forcing the Metropolitan Police to make "very difficult decision."

She claimed a small amount of people "began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items" and although the "vast majority" of people left, four people were arrested for "public order offences and for breaches of the Health Protection Regulations."

Footage of the chaos in London went viral just hours after Kate Middleton, Prince William's wife, visited the band stand in solidarity with Sarah.

In one clip, members of the Metropolitan Police force appear to manhandle a woman at the bandstand, removing those standing infront of the crowd.

The video sparked outrage online from those who attended the vigil, and those who did not, with some calling for an enquiry into the event.

Get latest news headlines delivered free

Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?

We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.

Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.

You can sign up here – you won't regret it…

Assistant Commissioner Ms Ball said she accepts why the actions of the officers have been "questioned," and said the force did not want to be in a position where "enforcement was necessary."

She concluded: "We absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary. But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people’s safety.

"Let me end by saying that across the Met, we review every single event that we police to see if there are lessons that can be learnt. This one will be no different."

The vigil was held at Clapham Common March 13 for dead marketing manager Sarah Everard who disappeared from the area while walking home from a friend’s house.

Her body was discovered in a builder’s bag over 60 miles from where she disappeared in Ashford, Kent, and a serving Metropolitan Police Officer, Wayne Couzens, has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.

Westminster Magistrates Court heard on Saturday that Ms Everard's body had been identified through the use of dental records.

Couzens, who has sustained two injuries to the head while in custody, is scheduled to appear at the Old Bailey in London on March 16.

Source: Read Full Article