Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick said she will not quit after a Sarah Everard vigil ended in arrests and accusations of police manhandling.
Dick defended officers, saying they were in an “invidious” position when crowds grew at Clapham Common on Saturday evening.
“They moved to try to explain to people, to engage with people, to get people to disperse from this unlawful gathering and many, many, many people did – unfortunately, a small minority did not,” she said.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “not satisfied” with Dick’s explanation of heavy-handed police actions, calling for a full investigation by two police watchdogs.
Khan, who has oversight of the Metropolitan Police, said he had “received assurances” that the vigil would be policed sensitively, which in his view was not the case.
UK policing minister Kit Malthouse jumped to Dick’s defence this morning, after he told Sky News that he did not think she should resign.
“I do recognise that the police are in an incredibly difficult position, I mean throughout this pandemic, we’ve asked them to do a job that they’ve never done before, and to stand between the public and this terrible virus, in a way that none of us are used to,” Malthouse said.
Former House of Commons official Eliot Wilson noted that the past year has “hardly been free of mass public demonstrations”.
“The police tried to salvage something from their idiocy by saying that they understood the strength of feeling and were in discussion with the organisers about this event in light of the current Covid regulations.
“It should never have come to that,” Wilson said.
Social media fury
Four women were arrested at the vigil for Everard, while others were seen being forcibly taken away by police.
The scenes sparked fury on social media, as a picture of vigil attendee Patsy Stevenson, 28, being arrested widely circulated.
Boris Johnson has said that he is “deeply concerned” about the footage, and will today chair a meeting of the crime and justice taskforce to look at what needs to be done to make the streets safer for women.