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Dame Cressida Dick rules out resignation over Sarah Everard vigil clash
14 March 2021, 17:21 | Updated: 14 March 2021, 18:20
Dame Cressida Dick has ruled out resigning after a Sarah Everard vigil ended in arrests and accusations of "manhandling" by police officers.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told reporters she was "appalled" at what happened to Sarah Everard but she would not consider her position over clashes between officers and mourners at Clapham Common on Saturday night.
She said: "All the women and men of the Met are outraged at what has happened and they're working as hard as they can to get justice for Sarah.
"In that context, none of us would have wanted to see the scenes we saw at the end of yesterday's events.
"It's worth saying, of course, I fully understand the strength of feeling I think as a woman hearing from people about their experiences in the past and what they feel about what happened to Sarah and what has been going on, I understand why so many people wanted to come and pay their respects and make a statement about this.
She added that if the vigil had been lawful "I'd have been there...I'd have been at a vigil" and highlighted the "really calm and peaceful" atmosphere as the Common before 6pm yesterday.
"Unfortunately later on," she continued, "we had a really big crowd that gathered, lots of speeches and quite rightly, as far as I can see, my team felt this is now an unlawful gathering which poses a considerable risk to people's health according to the regulations."
Commissioner Dick welcomed the Home Secretary Priti Patel's request for an independent investigation into the events - which she described as "fiendishly difficult policing".
Asked if she felt she owed an apology to her frontline officers, Dame Cressida Dick said: "I feel for my officers, I feel for them every day."
She added: "I completely recognise that they are, particularly in this last year, often finding themselves in very very difficult situations, they are policing during a pandemic. Nobody wants a third wave to happen.
"It's only a few weeks since the NHS was on its knees. They have a really difficult job, they have to make fine judgments, they often don't have infinite information or all the time in the world.
"They 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 have done it differently' without actually understanding what was going through their minds.
"I guarantee that every single officer who was policing last night, like me, would rather we were not in the time of coronavirus. There could be a large, peaceful set of vigils all over the country.
"Most of them would have been at those vigils and I guarantee also that my officers up and down London and beyond, if they weren't working, will have been thinking of Sarah at 9:30pm last night, they will have been lighting their candles or pausing, and it's something we care about very, very deeply."