Council warns of ‘immense damage’ to policing by consent

Lambeth town hall
Lambeth town hall in Brixton will be lit in orange tonight in memory of Sarah Everard and other women in Lambeth whose lives have been taken by violence from men

Leaders of Lambeth council have warned that the Metropolitan police “have done immense damage” to policing by consent through their treatment of the weekend vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common.

With the 40th anniversary of the 1981 riots in Brixton only weeks away, council leader Jack Hopkins and Jacqui Dyer, cabinet member for jobs, skills and community safety said: “Policing by consent, fully accountable to the community and trusted by it, is something we have always strived to ensure exists in Lambeth.

“The actions of the senior leadership of the Metropolitan police have done immense damage to that in the last few days.”

Welcoming London mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement of an independent investigation into events on Clapham Common, Hopkins and Dyer said police handling of it had marred a growing determination to build a society in which women and girls are safe and feel safe everywhere.

“This event could have been a peaceful and respectful opportunity to pay tribute to Sarah’s memory and for the voices of women and girls to be heard,” they said.

“Instead, the senior leadership of the Metropolitan police refused to engage with Reclaim These Streets and tried to clamp down, infringing the rights of assembly of women and girls and causing even more pain in an already deeply painful week.”

Two of the people behind Reclaim These Streets are Lambeth councillors Jessica Leigh (Lab, Ferndale) and Anna Birley (Lab, Thurlow Park).

Hopkins and Dyer said they has sought clarity from the police, adding: “their responses and the official statement from the Metropolitan Police are completely inadequate”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs that she had had “extensive discussions” with Met chief Cressida Dick before the Clapham Common vigil.

Lambeth town hall in Brixton will be lit in Orange tonight (17 March) in memory of Sarah Everard and other women in Lambeth whose lives were taken due to violence from men.

Hopkins and Dyer said Lambeth council would continue to take action to protect women and girls through its violence against women and girls services.

This includes:

  • working with local schools and colleges to make sure people are aware of services available to support them
  • putting in additional resources in schools and colleges in the area to support women and girls
  • providing details of all services available to the public
  • working with local GPs and health providers across the borough so they are equipped to support and refer patients
  • increasing services during this time to make sure that everyone who wants to speak to them can do so
  • working with the police to ensure personal safety alarms are available for any woman who wants one
  • maintaining our funding for these services as we have done, despite cuts to local council spending by central government
  • working on a new strategy to prevent violence against women and girls that we will deliver later this year.

The council said The Gaia Centre provides confidential, non-judgmental and independent support services for people living in Lambeth who are experiencing gender-based violence.

Call the Gaia Centre on 020 7733 8724 or email lambethvawg@refuge.org.uk.

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