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Woman arrested at Sarah Everard vigil calls on Cressida Dick to 'take her blindfold off'

10 September 2021, 11:38

Patsy Stevenson called on Cressida Dick to "take your blindfold off" and address issues in the Met Police.
Patsy Stevenson called on Cressida Dick to "take your blindfold off" and address issues in the Met Police. Picture: Alamy/Global

By Joe Cook

The woman pictured being arrested on the ground at a Sarah Everard vigil has told LBC she’s “a bit shocked” Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick is set to stay in place, and demanded the chief “stop ignoring” the “systemic issues in the force”.

Patsy Stevenson, who was held to the floor and handcuffed by police officers at the vigil for Ms Everard in widely condemned scenes, said it has got to the point where Dame Cressida “has failed on so many occasions now it is a point of how many is too many?"

The embattled Met commissioner is reportedly set to have her contract extended by two years, despite facing significant criticism of her time in one of the UK’s most powerful policing roles.

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Victims of police corruption have written an open letter to Boris Johnson demanding Dame Cressida be “properly investigated for her conduct” and to be replaced by someone outside of London “via a truly independent and transparent process”.

Adding her voice to those demanding change in the Met, Ms Stevenson added: “In another sense I’m not shocked, because I feel like what has happened within the Met Police there hasn't been any accountability, still as of yet after all this time.

“Not just for the vigil but for all the other things that have happened.”

Unlike some, Ms Stevenson stopped short of calling for Dame Cressida to step aside, explaining that she is worried that any replacement could be worse.

"I think I would prefer if she were to take responsibility herself for the things that she has had a hand on.

“However, we all have to think about what is the best decision for the public, as the police are there to serve the public and at the moment they are not doing so with her as a leader."

“Unless they find a leader who will actually take accountability for the things that have gone wrong and actually change their systemic racism, their sexism - there are all sorts of things that the Met Police in particular need to address and need to change,” she explained.

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Asked what message she would have for the Met commissioner, Ms Stevenson told LBC: "I would say please remove your blindfold and fix the systemic issues within the force. It feels as though she is ignoring the issues at hand."

She particularly took aim at the lack of real change since the murder of Ms Everard at the hands of Met Police officer Wayne Couzens in March shocked the country.

"I don’t think they have done enough for women, girls and femme presenting people’s safety on our streets at all. Since the vigil - I think it has been six or seven months now - and I have still not seen anything happen at all.”

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Pressure group Reclaim These Streets, which was setup following Ms Everard’s death, has also heavily criticised the commissioner following the reports that she is expected to stay in post.

"It is a failure of accountability if Cressida Dick has her contract renewed," the group told LBC in a statement.

"It’s wrong that she should stay in post when she leads a culture which looks the other way when male officers are accused of sexual assault, harassment, and other sexual misconduct.

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"On her watch, women, and especially women of colour, say they feel belittled rather than believed when they are victims of crime.

"On her watch, serving officers shared selfies with the bodies of Bibaa and Nicole, and a serving officer raped and murdered Sarah while she was walking home.

"These are not a few “bad’uns” but a rotten culture that comes from the top. Until there are real consequences for ineptitude and inaction, we stay in the same patterns that are rife with racism and misogyny."

Responding to the comments from Ms Stevenson and Reclaim These Streets, Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe from the Metropolitan Police Service, highlighted that a review by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary concluded that "officers acted proportionately and did their very best to peacefully disperse the [Sarah Everard vigil] demonstrating patience and restraint".

Ms Rolfe said the Met stands by the actions of the officers at the gathering, adding: "Policing of public order events is highly complex and is one of the most scrutinised areas of law enforcement, we continue to invite our critics to join us in observing the reality of policing these events and the challenges officers face."