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

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks student athletes could lose out under new proposal

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

(Photo: MOSAIC/Facebook)
Organization receives $10K from B.C. government to tackle racism in Surrey, White Rock

Funding to go toward forum for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

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

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read