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

Vancouver Giants recorded three power-play goals Wednesday against the Victoria Royals. This is a new season-best for the G-Men. (Paige Bednorz/Special to Black Press Media)
Giants topple Victoria to hold on to top spot

In a 5-3 victory over the Royals on Wednesday night, several highlight-reel moments

Firefighters carry equipment from the scene of Monday’s Willoughby fire. The April 19, 2021 blaze turned the Alexander Square development at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue to rubble. (Rob Wilton/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Willoughby Fire: the aftermath of the inferno in Langley

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

A ambulance drives past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
9 Lower Mainland hospitals to postpone non-urgent surgeries as hospitalizations surge

Record number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across B.C.

Sgt. Frank Jang of IHIT spoke Thursday morning at the press conference about three recent gangland murders, including the killing of UN Gang member Todd Gouwenberg at the Langley Sportsplex on April 21. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Langley man gunned down at Sportsplex was long-time gang member

Todd Gouwenberg was affiliated with the UN Gang, police said

Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman’s riding includes Aldergrove. (Black Press Media files)
‘The budget B.C. was hoping for is not there’: Aldergrove’s MLA

Liberal MLA Bruce Banman said new provincial budget has little for residents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time up-keeping the yard? You may be unintentionally contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. Carlos Monteith, the man charged in the Clayton shooting, was sentenced April 22 on charges related to a different shooting in New West in November, 2019. (File photo)
Man gets 6.5 years in prison for shooting as he awaits trial for separate Cloverdale slaying

Carlos Nathaniel Monteith sentenced for possessing a prohibited weapon and discharging a firearm with intent

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

So far, 15 gang-related killings have occurred across Metro Vancouver in 2021. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Police report 15 gang-linked killings in Metro Vancouver in 2021 as tensions escalate

The situation has flared up again, as tensions dating back to 2008 between the UN gang and rivals including the Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the Wolf Pack escalate

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read