The behaviour of the police at the vigil for Sarah Everard will cause lasting damage

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Monday 15 March 2021 17:47
Crowds gather outside of Scotland Yard to mourn Sarah Everard

My disabled daughter rarely leaves her home. But needing to express her solidarity with all female victims of male violence, she made every effort to get to Sarah Everard’s vigil.

Peacefully holding up her light in memory of Sarah, she was roughly manhandled by a police officer twice her size and three times as heavy. She was utterly powerless, and is left traumatised by the experience.

The Met’s brutal conduct in Clapham on Saturday was itself a demonstration of the very attitude and behaviour women were trying to take a stand against. Those responsible for last night’s unjustifiable use of force against women must be called to account.

Pam Radford Wilmslow, Cheshire

The policing of the Clapham Common vigil once again raises the question of police accountability.

An officer is charged with Sarah Everard’s murder. A predominantly male policing force then deals in a very heavy-handed way with a peaceful vigil to remember Sarah and highlight violence against women.

Will officers be disciplined? Too often in the past, whether it be deaths in custody or police infiltrating protest groups and having relationships and children with the women concerned, there is no accountability. No one is disciplined or prosecuted for the damage done. This creates a vista of impunity among serving police officers, a sense of being untouchable.

Read more: To all the men who say they want to make women feel safer – here’s what to do

This cannot continue. Police officers are given exceptional powers over citizens’ lives, so have to serve to a very high standard. When these standards are broken, action must be taken.

Paul Donovan London E11

What a golden opportunity to show policing by consent still meant something in this country and the Met blew it.

Dave Thomas Bristol

It is difficult to think of a more demonstrative way that the Met Police could have shown that they don’t “get it” than the scenes at Clapham Common on Saturday night.

Yes, we are all under Covid restrictions and the main organisers themselves called off the event, but it was inevitable that people would turn up. Had I not been unwell, I might have gone.

But the police just behaved like thugs. Can there be any wonder that women feel unsafe at night when the people who are meant to protect them treat them so badly? Last night was a huge step backwards.

Steve Mumby London SW6

While I wholeheartedly regret what happened to Sarah Everard and all women that suffer any unwanted attention by men, I do not believe the vigil on Clapham Common was a wise move.

The organisers had tried, through the courts, to gain authority for the gathering; their request was not granted. To then gather on the Common was in clear breach of Covid legislation and guidance on meetings, and therefore inevitably brought them into conflict with the police. Should the police have chosen not to act, it would have attracted criticism from others that some gatherings are allowed and others not.

Read more: Sarah Everard’s disappearance should shock us into overturning centuries of inequality

Perhaps politicians should reflect on their criticism of the police and consider, when passing legislation and guidance, making it more precise, so the onus of interpretation is not left to others.

Francis Sole Cranleigh, Surrey

Bridging the gap

The feasibility study into the concept of a rail tunnel from Scotland to Belfast is positive news. The project needs to be undertaken, and fast, if we are to seize the opportunities for a more balanced United Kingdom with more jobs and development in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England.

The rail tunnel would be connected to the great ports of Belfast and Larne, thus turning them into strategic UK ports given their proximity to the north Atlantic and the great circle route. There would be a rail freight terminal in the Belfast area for freight of the island of Ireland to be trucked there and loaded onto trains for GB – and continental Europe – and vice versa. This would represent a major transfer of freight from road to rail. And more employment in the UK logistics sector. Belfast would become a logistical megaplex.

Finally, the project would necessitate the reinstatement of the much missed Dumfries-Stranraer line in southwest Scotland to secure a direct route between Belfast and London, as well as continental Europe.

John Barstow West Sussex

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