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Sarah Everard: 'Overhaul system' to tackle violence against women

Vigil For Murdered Sarah Everard On Clapham Common London

Tensions escalated during the weekend when hundreds of people defied COVID-19 restrictions and gathered in a London park Saturday night in a vigil for the victim, Sarah Everard.

What began as a peaceful protest in residential Clapham Common turned contentious hours after Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, visited the memorial to pay her respects to the 33-year-old marketing executive, who was allegedly killed while walking home earlier this month.

Clashes broke out at a vigil held for Sarah Everard in London last night when, despite police orders, hundreds of people flocked to Clapham Common, close to where the 33-year-old disappeared and social media was awash this morning with images comparing the two events.

Patel said that some of the footage circulating online from the vigil was "upsetting", adding she had asked the Met for "a full report on what happened".

Home Office Minister Priti Patel, who oversees the Met, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have both called for an independent investigation.

The Metropolitan Police's handling of a vigil in south London to mourn Sarah Everard has been widely criticised across the political spectrum.

London police chief Cressida Dick backed her officers and said that they needed to make a very hard judgement.

Some women called for defiance and urged people to still head to Clapham Common on Saturday evening despite the ban, using the hashtag #vigilforSarah on social media. "As a woman and a police officer, I want nothing more than for women to feel safe and protected by the police", Roper said.

Caroline Nokes, the Tory chair of the women and equalities committee, said she was "truly shocked at the scenes from Clapham Common - in this country we police by consent, not by trampling the tributes and dragging women to the ground". The force has said it will consider if "lessons can be learned".

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Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball defended the officers' actions.

Ms Everard's killing has provoked a huge outpouring of grief and dismay in Britain at the failure of police and wider society to tackle violence against women. "We remain absolutely committed to helping to keep women safe, and feeling safe".

Police had denied permission for a vigil on Saturday evening at London's Clapham Common, near where Everard was last seen alive, citing regulations created to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"It's 20 years since I worked in a women's refuge, and we have not moved forward in any way that we should to address this issue".

On Sunday evening, officers could be seen standing at the ends of the path by the cordon, with a police van also seen in the town.

In the wake of the scenes on Saturday night, politicians from all sides condemned the police's actions, and Dame Cressida faced calls to resign.

"Quite rightly, as far as I can see, my team felt that this is now an unlawful gathering which poses a considerable risk to people's health", she said.

Jamie Klingler, who organized the cancelled "Reclaim These Streets" event, blamed police for denying women their right to have a silent vigil in the first place. After appearing before a magistrate's court on Saturday (March 13), Couzens has been remanded in custody and will be brought before the Central Criminal Court (also called Old Bailey) on Tuesday (March 16).

Couzens joined the Metropolitan Police in 2018 and guarded foreign embassies before his arrest. The police said that Couzens had not been on duty at the time of Everard's disappearance. A week later, her body was found in a wood in southeast England near the house of the main suspect in the case, who was serving in the Metropolitan Police's elite diplomatic protection unit.