Have your say: Should the Met Police commissioner resign over the handling of the Sarah Everard vigil?

Ross McGuinness
·2 min read
A woman holds up a placard as people gather in Clapham Common, London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled. Serving police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, has appeared in court charged with kidnapping and killing the marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on March 3. Picture date: Saturday March 13, 2021.
The Metropolitan Police has been criticised for its handling of a vigil on Saturday for Sarah Everard. (PA)

The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is under increasing pressure to resign over her force’s handling of a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard.

Dame Cressida Dick has dismissed calls for her to quit, despite footage showing officers clashing with crowds in Clapham on Saturday evening.

Hundreds of people gathered at the bandstand in Clapham Common, south London, to pay tribute to marketing executive Ms Everard, 33, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s house on 3 March.

Her remains were found in woodland in Kent and Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.

Dame Cressida said what happened to Ms Everard made her “more determined, not less” to lead the organisation, and welcomed home secretary Priti Patel’s request for an independent investigation into the events.

The Met Police commissioner said on Sunday: “What happened to Sarah appalls me. As you know, I’m the first woman commissioner of the Met, perhaps it appalls me, in a way, even more because of that.

“What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation.

“I’ve listened to what people have been saying in the last week, I know that in the streets all across the UK women don’t feel as safe as we would all like women to feel. I am utterly determined.”

Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” about the footage from the event, some of which showed police officers grabbing women and leading them away in handcuffs, but he is understood to have confidence in Dame Cressida.

The vigil had initially been organised by Reclaim These Streets before it was cancelled following consultation with the Metropolitan Police, which said it would be in breach of coronavirus laws.

Four people were arrested for public order and coronavirus regulation breaches, the force said.

Calls for Dame Cressida to resign were led by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, while Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer said her position was “untenable”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said she should not quit, but condemned the policing on Saturday as “wrong”.

On Monday, one of the vigil’s organisers said she did not want Dame Cressida to step down.

Anna Birley from Reclaim These Streets told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We are a movement of women seeking to support and empower other women, and as one of the most senior women in British policing history, we do not want to add to the pile-on.”

Read more: Cressida Dick under pressure to explain police actions at Sarah Everard vigil

Watch: Met Police chief defies calls to quit over Sarah Everard vigil