Cressida Dick wanted all-female team to police chaotic Sarah Everard vigil

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Police detained a woman as people gathered at the memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand - Hannah McKay/Reuters
Police detained a woman as people gathered at the memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand - Hannah McKay/Reuters

Dame Cressida Dick considered sending an all-female team to police the Sarah Everard vigil but the idea was "hugely divisive" among officers, MPs have heard.

The Metropolitan Police commissioner revealed her desire to send an all-women force to the controversial vigil on Clapham Common after an MP asked her “why were there so many male officers there that evening?”

The vigil for Ms Everard, who was abducted and killed walking home in south London in March, descended into chaos when officers started shutting down the event and arresting attendees due to coronavirus restrictions.

Dame Cressida told MPs on the Home Affairs select committee that the day before the event she considered deploying an all female police force, but quickly dismissed the idea.

“One, [it was] not practical for us to do that at short notice,” the commissioner told MPs. “And secondly, [it was] hugely divisive among my people. I have subsequently taken a straw poll, and men and women alike are really not keen on the idea that when you have a primarily female rally or protest that we will send only women to deal with that.

“It was considered, but it was not practical and we didn’t do it. “It would be wrong to say that there was an unusual number of men there, far from it.”

She added: “I am very proud of my male and female officers. I do understand the sensitivities, and I do understand that the images in that context looked very powerful to people.

“Public order policing… can be quite messy, we are hands on when we arrest people.”

The commissioner was also questioned about the Met’s handling of Operation Midland.

People in the crowd turned on their phone torches as they gathered in Clapham Common, London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled -  Victoria Jones/PA
People in the crowd turned on their phone torches as they gathered in Clapham Common, London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled - Victoria Jones/PA

Dame Cressida denied suggestions that the Met had “lost its moral compass” but admitted that the scandal had damaged the public’s trust in the force.

She told MPs: “I do not believe we have lost our moral compass, I don’t believe that anything has been covered up.”

Dame Cressida added: “I think that Operation Midland, first of all, had a huge impact on many individuals, and I regret that, and secondly it harmed people’s sense of confidence in the police service generally and the Met.

"I think this has damaged people’s trust to some extent and we need to carry on making sure that nothing like this happens again.”