London’s Metropolitan Police have been criticised for their “disgraceful” handling of a vigil for murdered woman Sarah Everard, with the night ending in arrests and several women being led away in handcuffs as officers dispersed crowds.

Reclaim These Streets organised a vigil on Clapham Common in south London, near where Sarah Everard was last seen alive, but they cancelled it after warnings from police that it could break COVID protocols and lead to hefty fines.

Several similar events around the country were also cancelled, however, thousands of people – including Kate Middleton – went to Clapham Common during the day, to leave flower at a makeshift memorial for Everard.

Crowds grew as night fell, and police moved in to try and disperse them, leading to physical altercations between officers and members of the public, as members of the crowd chanted “sisters united will never be defeated”.

The police’s response drew criticism from across the political spectrum in the UK, with London mayor Sadiq Khan calling the scenes “unacceptable” and out of proportion, and Home Secretary Priti Patil demanding a “full report” into the night.

Police have since confirmed that four people were arrested.

Reclaim The Streets released a statement condemning police for “physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence”, saying “it is their responsibility to protect public order, public health and the right to protest – they failed tonight on all accounts.”

Image: Getty Images / Victoria Jones