The Metropolitan Police Federation has released a statement following HMICFRS findings that the Metropolitan Police ‘acted appropriately’ at the Sarah Everard vigil.
In the report, Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, who led the inspection team, said:
“On behalf of everyone who worked on this inspection, I send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Sarah Everard, who have suffered an unimaginable tragedy.
“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.
“A minute’s silence was held for Sarah at 6pm, after which a peaceful and sombre vigil turned into something else – a rally with dense crowds and little or no social distancing. We concluded that the Met was right to recognise the need to be seen to be consistent in its policing of all events and gatherings. They were, therefore, right to enforce the regulations – having gone to some lengths to persuade people to disperse.”
Responding to the report, Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said:
“The outcome of this report comes as no surprise. We said on the very evening that politicians of all parties should make themselves aware of all the facts before rushing to judgement and making statements.
“But these armchair critics on their Saturday night sofas did not.
“The knee-jerk commentary from politicians of all parties – who as the report states were reacting to a snapshot on social media rather than the facts – has made the already difficult job of our colleagues in London incredibly harder. And more dangerous. And for that these people should be ashamed.
“As the independent report states: ‘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.’
“We could not have said it better ourselves. This was outrageous behaviour from those who should know better and we trust as elected officials and we now call on these politicians to make themselves accountable and to apologise to our hard-working colleagues for the damage they have done.”
Ken concluded: “The thoughts of the Metropolitan Police Federation remain with the family and friends of Sarah Everard.”
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