London police chief Cressida Dick on Sunday said she was not considering to resign and dismissed criticism of how her officers dispersed mourners at a vigil for a murdered woman, The Guardian reported.
Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told reporters that she welcomed an independent review of why officers handcuffed women and dragged them away from the gathering on Clapham Common in London on Saturday.
More than a thousand people had gathered to mark the killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. She disappeared as she walked home on the evening of March 3, and was found dead a week later. It has led to a wave of accounts on social media from women about the dangers of walking alone at night. Assistant Commissioner Wayne Couzens, who joined the force in 2018, has been charged in Everard’s death.
Amid calls for accountability as people shared images of a woman being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by male officers at the vigil, Dick said she was “more determined” to lead the Metropolitan Police.
“They [officers] have to make these really difficult calls and I don’t think anybody should be sitting back in an armchair and saying, “Well, that was done badly” or “I would’ve done it differently” without actually understanding what was going through their minds,” she said. “What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation.”
Dick also cited the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic to back her officers’ action to clash with mourners. “I wouldn’t have wanted to see a vigil in memory of Sarah, end with those scenes,” she said. “Indeed, if it had been lawful, I’d have been there. I would have been at a vigil.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who is responsible for policing in the city – had said on Saturday that the officers’ response “was at times neither appropriate or proportionate”. Home Secretary Priti Patel has commissioned an independent investigation into the force’s decisions to take such action.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday night that that he was “deeply concerned” about the images shared on social media, BBC reported. “The death of Sarah Everard must unite us in determination to drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to protect and defend them,” he added.