Policing minister Kit Malthouse insists he has confidence in Cressida Dick

15 March 2021, 10:07 | Updated: 15 March 2021, 12:48

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Policing minister Kit Malthouse has told LBC the scenes at Saturday’s vigil for Sarah Everard were “alarming and distressing” but that he and the Home Secretary retain confidence in Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick.

Dame Cressida, the force's commissioner, has faced calls to resign amid a storm of criticism over the force's handling of the vigil on Clapham Common.

In ugly scenes, officers clashed with crowds gathered to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat on March 3.

READ MORE: PM 'deeply concerned' by Sarah Everard vigil clashes

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Asked by Nick Ferrari if Home Secretary Priti Patel has confidence in Dame Cressida, Mr Malthouse insisted: “She does and so do I.”

“Obviously the events of the weekend were extremely alarming and distressing and I can understand why you and your listeners would be concerned about the footage that appeared,” he said, adding later he could "understand people's anger”.

But he added the police had been placed “in a very difficult position... standing between us and a virus and protecting our health".

He said an independent investigation into the weekend's events “will understand and illuminate what the decision making was”.

“I think it’s right for the commissioner to ask people to wait and appreciate the full circumstances the police were facing before them form a view and that's what the inquiry aims to illuminate for everybody,” he said.

Pressed on whether Dame Cressida should apologise, he said it was “a matter for the commissioner”, adding “it’s worth remembering that everything [the police] did on Saturday night was focused on protecting people’s health”.

Asked by Nick whether “half a dozen people arresting a women in her mid-20s" was a proportionate response, Mr Malthouse said: “There have been a number of police officers out on the media explaining that the way they arrest people in those circumstances to guarantee their safety and to keep them free of injury is to use four or five police officers to make sure they don’t get hurt on the way.”

Further pressed on whether handcuffing was necessary, he continued: “In arrest circumstances there are police protocols that do require sometimes handcuffing.”

But Mr Malthouse added: “We’re very concerned, the Prime Minister's concerned, the Home Secretary’s concerned and I’m sure the commissioner is concerned and that’s why she’s welcomed this transparency in this investigation.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to chair a meeting of the Government's Crime and Justice Taskforce to discuss ways to protect women and girls from violence, with Dame Cressida among the attendees.

Mr Malthouse said she has “skill and experience and knowledge to bring to this particular issue and that’s why she’ll be attending this meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon to talk about what more we can do to protect women in the public realm and in the private realm too.”