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

Just Posted

A worker at Wee Geordies Liquor Store held at knifepoint on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. A female entered the store and grabbed a bottle of liquor and produced a knife and demanded money. She was not located. (Wee Geordies video surveillance screenshot)
VIDEO: Two stores robbed on the same day in Kitimat

The first incident was at 5:45 a.m. and the second incident occurred 3:30 p.m.

McElhanney worked with the builder, LHLP, to develop a fishway in a highly constrained and fluctuating waterway. (McElhanney file photo)
McElhanney win natural resources and habitat award for the Anderson Creek Fishway

Local team used design elements to minimize the environmental impact of the LNG Canada construction

The community food share garden that was located in Mountainview Square between Pet Valu and BC Liquor store has been relocated to the Cornerstone garden between No frills and the lower mall access. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat Food Share Garden getting set up for the season

The District of Kitimat has also contributed $30,600 in 2021 to the TSWA’s Food Share program

An aircraft gets serviced at the Northwest Regional Airport. An apron expansion project undertaken in October last year, will be able to accommodate six aircrafts once ready in May. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Northwest Regional Airport apron expansion work nears completion

The $2 million project was undertaken to accommodate increased LNG Canada charter traffic

Kitimat RCMP searching for two robbery suspects. (File photo)
Two robbers, both armed with knives, sought

Incidents took place at corner store, liquor store

A worker at Wee Geordies Liquor Store held at knifepoint on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. A female entered the store and grabbed a bottle of liquor and produced a knife and demanded money. She was not located. (Wee Geordies video surveillance screenshot)
VIDEO: Two stores robbed on the same day in Kitimat

The first incident was at 5:45 a.m. and the second incident occurred 3:30 p.m.

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Most Read