COVID claimed another victim this weekend. Freedom of peaceful assembly was trampled under the boots of London’s clod-hopping Plod.
Their Clapham Common outrage reignited questions about law and order in modern Britain and fears police are increasingly out of control.
Cops waded into defenceless women grieving over the murder of tragic Sarah Everard
“The Met is institutionally incompetent,” a senior Cabinet minister said last night. “They are poorly led, politically correct and demoralised.”
In TV scenes which might have been filmed on the streets of Hong Kong or Wuhan, cops waded into defenceless women grieving over the murder of tragic Sarah Everard.
The timing could not have been more catastrophic.
Minutes earlier, the future Queen of England captured the public mood, ignoring police and joining the nationwide vigil to a young woman allegedly slaughtered by a serving cop.
Her silent protest followed the naming in Parliament by Labour MP Jess Phillips of all 118 women and girls killed by men in the past 12 months.
The mob-handed police operation was a crass misjudgement, not by the officers in hi-viz, but by their leaders and commanders — including Met Police chief Cressida Dick.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has presided over the capital’s knife carnage, also needs to explain why he sat on his hands as this avoidable disaster unfolded.
Yet again we are left to wonder if Britain’s police are fit for purpose — or a law unto themselves.
Protesters flash lights from their mobile phones at Parliament SquareCredit: Reuters
One mourner was detained while at the vigilCredit: Rex Features
Sir Robert Peel created the world’s first police service in 1829.
His “Bobbies” earned global respect as “citizens in uniform”, policing by consent.
Today they are likely to be compared with totalitarian regimes, dangerously out of touch with ordinary people.
Scotland Yard’s last “proper copper” was Sir John Stevens, a towering figure in the fight against crime.
The rot set in with abysmal successor Sir Ian Blair and spread under arrogant Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Now the spotlight is on Cressida Dick, whose career has been dogged by disaster from the day an innocent Brazilian Tube passenger was shot dead by police on her watch.
It was Dick who gave her blessing to the disastrous Operation Midland paedophile hunt which destroyed lives and reputations on the say so of a fantasist named “Nick”.
Now Dame Cressida’s career is in the crosshairs over the vigil fiasco.
But despite Home Secretary Priti Patel’s call for an explanation, the crisis at the heart of Britain’s biggest police service is not down to one person.
The failures are endemic — and political. Scotland Yard is a “canteen culture” where police sit indoors chasing hate crime rather than walking the beat among real people.
Police stations are shut across the country, leaving the public increasingly at risk of random violence.
Met Police Chief Commisioner Dame Cressida Dick arrived at New Scotland Yard on SundayCredit: PA:Press Association
Cops clashed with the peaceful members of the public who had convened on the CommonCredit: AFP or licensors
Thieves, muggers and “county lines” drug gangs operate with impunity. Cops insist they were simply applying lockdown laws to beat Covid, despite evidence it does not spread in the fresh air.
But police have wide-ranging discretion when dealing with public order.
They did not have to seize defenceless women, pin them face down in the mud and march them off in handcuffs.
Shockingly, it was Met Police officers who took selfies with the corpses of two murdered women last year. Sex crimes seem a low priority.
Police forces have effectively decriminalised “cracked windows” offences such as burglary, bike theft and mugging — the sort of crimes people worry about most.
The same applies — in the view of many women — to sex offences including rape.
As Jess Phillips says, sex predators and stalkers rarely end up in court. You get shorter sentences for rape than defacing statues, she adds.
As for “flashers”, they are simply a waste of police time. Yet a few minutes of that precious time could have saved Sarah Everard.
Sluggish cops failed even to check CCTV number plate evidence after a man was reported for exposing himself at a McDonald’s three days before she was abducted.
Had they done so, she might be alive today.
Sarah disappeared on March 3 as she walked home
Put things in perspective
PARANOIA is one of the known symptoms of both pre- and post-natal depression.
This might explain the suicidal thoughts of the Duchess of Sussex, a pregnant mum of one.
These are dangerous waters so I will not dwell on them.
Families have disagreements and tears might be shed, but they are best not aired on Jeremy Kyle-style coast-to-coast TV.
The tragedy which culminated in Saturday’s Clapham Common vigil and the plight of Sarah Everard’s inconsolable family surely put things in perspective.
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