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01st Jul 2021

Police breached “fundamental rights” at Sarah Everard vigil, inquiry finds

Police clashed with members of the public at events honouring Sarah Everard earlier this year.

An inquiry has found multiple failings in the police’s handling of attendees at the vigil for Sarah Everard in London, and the Kill the Bill protests in Bristol.

A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution found that both the Metropolitan Police and the Avon and Somerset force failed to “understand their legal duties in respect of protest”.

The inquiry also stated that the forces applied Covid-19 lockdown laws wrongly.

In fact, according to the report, it appears the police’s interactions with protesters at the London vigil may have actually “increased the risk of Covid-19 transmission”.

Moreover, the inquiry found that officers at the Kill the Bill protest failed to “distinguish between those protesting peacefully” and those “engaging in acts of violence”. This ultimately led to the use of “excessive force”.

This report differs greatly from an investigation ordered by the UK’s Home Secretary, which described the police’s handling of the events as “appropriate”.

It claimed that “the Metropolitan police was 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”.

Patsy Stevenson said that she was tackled to the ground by officers at a Reclaim These Streets vigil in Clapham Ground earlier this year. During an interview on Good Morning Britain, Ms Stevenson said that members of the police were “aggressively talking to women” and that many were “saying quite a few things that made people angry”.

She told the Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard that she only attended the event to “lay a candle down”.

Images of her being held by police on the ground went viral after the event. In that moment, Ms Stevenson said that she had “never been so scared”.