Council slams Met Police over clashes at Sarah Everard vigil

Tower Hamlets council declares war on "hate crime against women"

Tower Hamlets council declares war on "hate crime against women" - Credit: Mike Brooke

Misogyny is to be treated as a “hate crime” in the East End following an emergency debate tonight (March 17) as part of a Tower Hamlets Council campaign to end violence against women. 

It came in this month's council meeting debate on prejudice against women in which the Met Police were condemned for breaking up as peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common.

An emergency motion to protect women and girls aimed at changing the way public services operate. The authority is stepping up its equality campaign to make women and girls feel safe on the streets and in public spaces, in the wake of Sarah's death. 

It condemned the actions  of some police officers on Saturday on Clapham Common seen dragging away peaceful campaigners in order to break up a public gathering breaching lockdown regulations.

The vigil was staged on the common where she had vanished. Sarah’s remains were discovered last week in Kent after she had been missing several days. A serving Met police officer has since been charged with her kidnap and murder. 

Cllr Rabina Khan... fighting for women's safety 

Cllr Rabina Khan... fighting for women's safety - Credit: Mike Brooke


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“What happened at Clapham Common was a disgrace to the Met Police,” Cllr Rabina Khan told the council debate. “The officers should have been in solidarity with the peaceful vigil.” 

Sarah’s case has “awakened us for legal responsibility to bring legislation changes”, council members declared. They plan to lobby Parliament for measures to change laws which have "disproportionate effects on women and girls".

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Councillors also called for a meeting with the Met’s borough commander for Tower Hamlets and Hackney to make the streets of east London safer for women. 

Mayor John  Biggs said: "I was concerned by the police response to the vigil in Clapham and, alongside the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary, believe it is right that HM Inspectorate of Constabulary conducts a review into what happened.
"Many women have spoken up since this tragedy who have been subject to abuse or harassment. They should not feel unsafe going about their daily business or bear the responsibility for attacks based on their gender. This is unacceptable."

Sarah Everard’s case added weight to the council's legal responsibility for change, councillors felt. The authority had a duty to create an equal society.  

Cllr Denise Jones... finding "solutions for women to use public spaces"

Cllr Denise Jones... finding "solutions for women to use public spaces" - Credit: Mike Brooke

Cllr Denise Jones said: “We have to find solutions for women to use public spaces. Our parks for example only have football pitches so when girls reach eight they stop using them which should be places where everyone meets.” 

But what happened at Clapham Common and the changes in public attitudes to women, councillors felt, could be "a moment the world changes”. 

Meanwhile, the council's Bromley Hall public building was being lit up in orange to remember Sarah Everard, chief executive Will Tuckey told the meeting.  

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