Vigil Arrestee Criticizes Police Over Covid Excuse
Detention at Sarah Everard Vigil
Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at a vigil for murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard, has accused the Metropolitan Police of using Covid-19 as a pretext for their actions. The event took place in March 2021 on Clapham Common during ongoing Covid restrictions.
Legal Victory and Apology
Ms. Stevenson, along with Dania Al-Obeid, who was also present at the vigil, subsequently won a legal battle against the Met and received compensation. They were also issued a letter of apology from the Metropolitan Police.
Criticism of Police Handling
The Met Police faced criticism for their heavy-handed approach during the later stages of the vigil, with reports of some women being forcefully restrained. The incident sparked public outrage and raised questions about the police response.
Ms. Stevenson raised concerns about the statements made by officers during the vigil. She questioned whether there would be an investigation into the transcripts of what the officers said, as she didn’t find any reference to Covid regulations in their comments. She expressed her belief that the police were using Covid-19 as an excuse when their actions were inappropriate.
Met’s Response and Learning
When asked if she believed the Met was learning from the incident, Ms. Stevenson expressed skepticism, suggesting that any changes made would be more of a superficial nature. She noted that the police often respond to such incidents with public relations efforts and promises of reform when a new commissioner takes office, but questioned the tangible progress of these reforms.
Acknowledgment from Police
Commander Karen Findlay acknowledged in letters to Ms. Stevenson and Ms. Al-Obeid that attending the vigil was motivated by their grief and anger over Sarah Everard’s tragic murder and their dissatisfaction with the police response. The letters recognized the feelings of many women who felt let down by the Met.
Mayor of London’s Response
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan expressed his concerns over the impact of Sarah Everard’s murder and the vigil on public trust in the police. He called the scenes at the vigil unacceptable and noted that they contributed to his loss of confidence in the former commissioner. Khan emphasized his commitment to working with the current commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, to bring about meaningful reform and restore the trust of those who felt let down by the police force.