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London Police Respond to Criticism Over Sarah Everard Vigil Tactics


It would be good for public confidence for this policing operation, in the context that it was taking place, in the round, given, of course, extraordinary strength of feeling that there was at the time, but also given the fact that we’re still in a pandemic — unlawful gatherings are unlawful gatherings. Officers have to take action if people are putting themselves massively at risk. I don’t think anybody who was not in the operation can actually pass a detailed comment on the rightness and wrongness of it. You know, this is fiendishly difficult policing, but also, I’m sure for the people who wanted to, you know, express their feelings, that was a difficult situation for them. And — and that’s why it needs a cold, light-of-day, sober review. Six hours of yesterday was really calm and peaceful. Very few police officers around, respectful, people laying flowers, not gathering and, you know, a vigil that did not breach the regulations. Unfortunately, later on, we had a really big crowd that gathered, lots of speeches. And, quite rightly, as far as I can see, my team felt this is now an unlawful gathering, which poses a considerable risk to people’s health, according to the regulations. A really invidious position for my officers to find themselves in. But they then moved to try to explain to people, to engage with people, to get people to disperse from this unlawful gathering. And many, many, many people did. Unfortunately, a small minority did not.


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