Review finds Police ‘didn’t act in heavy-handed manner’ at Sarah Everard vigil

Sir Thomas Winsor, who led the review, said the Metropolitan Police officers there did not act ‘in a heavy-handed manner’. The review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) also found the force was ‘justified’ in taking the view that the risks of Covid-19 transmission were ‘too great to ignore’.

‘The commissions I received from the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London to inspect the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common have been fulfilled. This has been a rapid but detailed inspection. ‘Public confidence in the police is critical. It is therefore important that there has been an independent, objective, evidence-based inspection to provide public reassurance, which we provide today.

‘Our civilian police model is precious. Officers are our fellow citizens, invested by the community to keep the community safe. ‘They rely upon and are entitled to receive public support when they act lawfully, sensitively and proportionately; in this case, in the face of severe provocation and in very difficult circumstances, they did just that.’

Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, who led the inspection team, said: ‘Amidst a heightened public debate on women’s safety, and during an unprecedented pandemic, the Metropolitan Police faced a complex and sensitive policing challenge at Clapham Common.

‘Condemnation of the Met’s actions within mere hours of the vigil – including from people in positions of responsibility – was unwarranted, showed a lack of respect for public servants facing a complex situation, and undermined public confidence in policing based on very limited evidence. ‘After reviewing a huge body of evidence – rather than a snapshot on social media – we found that there are some things the Met could have done better, but we saw nothing to suggest police officers acted in anything but a measured and proportionate way in challenging circumstances.’