Met Police Chief refuses to resign over “heavy handed” handling of Sarah Everard vigil – BBC News

the commissioner of the metropolitan police says she won't resign despite calls to quit over the forces handling of last night's vigil in memory of sarah everard dame cressida dick defended the tactics of her officers in trying to clear the area on clapham common in south london with the police saying the gathering posed a covert risk sarah everard who was 33 disappeared on her way home in clapham 12 days ago her body was later found in woodland in kent critics say police tactics last night were heavy-handed mps will tomorrow debate a new bill giving forces wider powers to deal with public gatherings and demonstrations this report from our home editor mark easton does contain some flash photography within moments of being taken this picture of police holding down a woman on clapham common last night became a symbol of female defiance against male aggression as darkness descended on the vigil for sarah everard what had been a peaceful and respectful demonstration of female solidarity turned ugly [Music] police moved in to disperse the crowd there was pushing and shoving with a number of women taken away in handcuffs four were arrested for public order and coronavirus regulation breaches among them dania as i was sat in the van as my hands were handcuffed i was just thinking gosh all i wanted was to stand with other women the fear that has been brewing for years from a very young age we get harassed and we're aware of the abuse and violence against women as the police surrounded the bandstand emotions intensified they had grabbed me they was being really aggressive twisting my arms you know they had put me in the handcuffs the the the beautiful women stood with me one of them as the pictures are circulated she was thrown to the floor you know she had police officers on her back you know with their knees their feet the police are saying that they had to act for public safety reasons i personally be in there didn't see anyone being at risk the sight of women who'd come to stand together against male violence being manhandled has led to a chorus of criticism from across the political spectrum all eyes on this woman the commissioner of the met dane cressida dick forced to explain her officer's actions to the home secretary and the london mayor today and defend herself to the press are you considering your position no i'm not they have to make these really difficult calls and i don't think anybody should be sitting back in an armchair and saying well that was done badly or i would have done it differently without actually understanding what they was going through their minds the metropolitan police were already being investigated for events around the sarah everard murder inquiry now scotland yards leaders find themselves under increasing political pressure the focus really of this weekend should be on sarah everard and her family but it is right also that the police are you know explain their actions they should have been allowed to protest to have their vigil to come together um in peace and i was very disturbed to see the police action i think it was wrong and i'm pleased it's now going to be reviewed there is evidence to suggest that some of those who attended the vigil had been looking for trouble and the police have been criticized before for not intervening in protests during the pandemic notably by the home secretary this evening a crowd of protesters gathered outside scotland yard presenting a new challenge to the police's ability to handle the outpouring of anguish sparked by sarah everard's death up to now ahmet stands accused of getting it badly wrong mark easton bbc news sarah everard's death has shown a critical light on the issues of violence against women and the safety of our streets our correspondent katie austin has been to clapham in south london to speak to some of the women who attended last night's vigil about why it was important for them to go catherine and anna maria made the short walk from their homes to clapham common this afternoon i mainly wanted to pay respects to sarah everard and her family it's had a massive impact on me as a woman living around here and i think it has so many others both went to last night's vigil despite being aware of lockdown rules they say they wore masks and kept social distance we couldn't not go because it affects every single one of us it is extremely rare for a woman to be abducted off the street but in recent days many women have been sharing other experiences on social media of feeling afraid being harassed or assaulted every woman i know has a story and it's to to think about but also express i guess anger we need the conversation to involve everyone of course we need women to share their stories but what was so great about last night was yeah there were a lot of girls but there were so many men naomi also chose to attend yesterday i didn't like being told that i wasn't allowed to she felt it was too important looking at sarah you just think it could have been me or it could have been my friends or it could have been my loved one so easily and just to carry that fear around with you every day it just weighs you down the sea of flowers at the band stand continued to swell today people stood in reflective silence the number of tributes which have been left and the number of people still coming here today is just one sign of how widely sarah's story has resonated a week that's included international women's day and mother's day has also seen mourning for the shocking loss of a woman's life and a wider national conversation about male violence and female safety katie austin bbc news well our special correspondent lucy manning is at westminster forest tonight lucy the political pressure on the metropolitan police and cressida dick in particular it remains intense well yes it couldn't have been a more damaging week for the metropolitan police and for the commissioner a member of their own force charged with the murder of sarah everard and then women going out in sympathy and also to stand against violence feeling that they were on the receiving end of violence in in the police response and it's fair to say those pictures did not look good and the politicians agreed the mayor of london said the scenes were completely unacceptable the home secretary saying that there were more questions that needed to be answered but i think the truth is they could have withdrawn their confidence in cressida dick today and they didn't do that and if they had withdrawn their confidence she would have had to resign so i think her job is safe for the moment this review will take some time but the big question is what it's done for the confidence of women in the metropolitan police you have the advisor to the home secretary on violence against women saying the police look like they were abusers last night so goodness knows what other people are thinking as well the police in their defense the police unions talk about the difficulty of these coveted regulations and having to police them and also the met point out that many women during the day did go and lay flowers there was no problem with that the duchess of cambridge obviously was one of those tomorrow the politics does return here because the police bill is going through the commons that gives the police even more laws when it comes even more control over protests labor says it will oppose lucy thank you for that lucy manning there at westminster

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