Boris Johnson To Lead Taskforce On Violence Against Women Amid Backlash To Sarah Everard Vigil Response
Boris Johnson has announced he will chair a meeting of the Crime And Justice Taskforce on Monday to discuss how the government can better “protect women and ensure our streets are safe”.
The meeting comes amid widespread backlash over the Met Police’s response to a vigil held at Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard, who was found dead last week after she disappeared while walking home in south London.
Many have expressed anger at the force’s “heavy-handed” tactics after footage showing officers forcibly detaining female attendees was shared widely on social media.
Johnson said he was "deeply concerned" by the footage from the event, which was held on Saturday evening despite police saying the event could not go ahead.
“I have spoken with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who has committed to reviewing how this was handled and the Home Secretary has also commissioned HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to conduct a lessons learned review into the policing of the event,” he said.
The PM continued: “Tomorrow I will chair a meeting of the Government’s Crime and Justice Taskforce to look at what further action we need to take to protect women and ensure our streets are safe.”
“The death of Sarah Everard must unite us in determination to drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to protect and defend them.”
It is expected that he will be joined at the meeting by home secretary Priti Patel, justice secretary Robert Buckland, Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick and director of public prosecutions Max Hill.
Dick resisted calls for her resignation on Sunday in the wake of widespread outrage at the Met Police's handling of Saturday's vigil.
“What happened to Sarah appals me. As you know, I’m the first woman commissioner of the Met, perhaps it appals me, in a way, even more because of that," Dick said. “What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation.”
Items on the agenda of Monday's meeting include the government’s review into the criminal justice system’s record on prosecuting rape and sexual assault, and how the government can expand the Safer Streets initiative to help to make the streets safer for women.
It was also revealed that a home office call for submissions to a consultation on violence against women, which was reopened on Friday following the public response to the Everard case, has already received over 53,000 responses.
The original survey, which was open between December and February, received just 15,000 responses across a 10-week period.
Home secretary Priti Patel described the response as “unprecedented”, and urged people to continue to “give us their views”.