A photograph of Sarah Everard amoungst floral tributes and candles placed at the bandstand on Clapham Common, London, Monday March 15, 2021. On Saturday hundreds of people disregarded a judge’s ruling and police requests by gathering at Clapham Common in honor of Sarah Everard. Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s apartment and was found dead a week later. The slaying sent shockwaves across the U.K. because a Metropolitan Police officer is charged with her kidnapping and murder. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A photograph of Sarah Everard amoungst floral tributes and candles placed at the bandstand on Clapham Common, London, Monday March 15, 2021. On Saturday hundreds of people disregarded a judge’s ruling and police requests by gathering at Clapham Common in honor of Sarah Everard. Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s apartment and was found dead a week later. The slaying sent shockwaves across the U.K. because a Metropolitan Police officer is charged with her kidnapping and murder. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

U.K. police response to Sarah Everard vigil stokes outrage ahead of crime bill

Legislation has also been criticized because it expands ability to prevent noisy and disruptive protests

The British government is under pressure to do more to protect women and ensure the right to protest as Parliament prepares to debate a sweeping crime bill amid anger over the way police broke up a vigil for a young murder victim abducted on the streets of London.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called a meeting of his Crime and Justice Taskforce, including government ministers, senior police officers and prosecutors, to discuss the issue of women’s safety. Among the items on the agenda is a recent decline in successful prosecutions for rape and sexual assault.

But the opposition Labour Party called on the government to stop talking, toughen penalties for rapists and take action against street harassment and stalking. The party has directed its lawmakers to vote against the crime bill, noting that women aren’t mentioned once in its 296 pages.

“This is a missed opportunity to tackle violence against women and girls that has become endemic in the U.K.,” David Lammy, Labour’s spokesman on justice, said in a statement.

The legislation has also been criticized because it expands the power of authorities to prevent noisy and disruptive protests.

The murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, has galvanized women to speak out about the barrage of verbal harassment and physical threats they face every day on the streets of Britain, saying they shouldn’t have to live in fear.

Everard disappeared March 3 in south London as she walked home from a friend’s house. Her body was found a week later about 85 miles (140 kilometres) to the east near the English Channel. A serving police officer has been charged with her kidnap and murder.

Hundreds of women gathered Saturday night on Clapham Common, a park near the place Everard was last seen alive, for a vigil in her honour.

Police broke up the event and arrested four women, saying the gathering was endangering public health. London’s Metropolitan Police Service had refused to give permission for the vigil in advance because authorities said it violated restrictions on large gatherings imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.

The front pages of Britain’s Sunday newspapers were filled with pictures of women clashing with police on the common. Many featured photos of Patsy Stevenson, 28, being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by officers.

“The fact that the police turned up was just disgraceful, because before then it was a peaceful protest,” Stevenson told the Times of London.

READ MORE: Case of U.K. woman who vanished on way home stirs grief, anger

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

United Kingdom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

A child writes in their school notebook during a home schooling session in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of students in Calgary will shift to online learning as of today in a bid to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Online classes begin for some Alberta students amid rising COVID-19 cases

Alberta currently has the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country

Volunteers participate in a work-bee at J.J. Collett Natural Area on March 27. (Photo Submitted)
J.J. Collett natural area proceeding with projects

The nature area appeared on a list of parks and nature areas that were “underutilized” by UCP

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read