Phil Schofield discusses Sarah Everard vigil on This Morning
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The two sisters Ms Henry and Ms Smallman were stabbed to death in Fryent Country Park and their bodies were discovered by family members on June 7, 2020. The march was organised by the Women’s Equality Party who said: “Women get betrayed by the institutions paid to protect us time and time again.”
Not only did police not search the park following the missing person’s report from Mina Smallman, Nicole’s mother, the two police officers sent to guard the crime scene took and distributed selfies with the bodies.
It was later reported that PC Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis called the two women “dead birds” in WhatsApp messages and were subsequently jailed for 33 months for misconduct in a public office.
Mina Smallman called the actions of the men a “betrayal of catastrophic proportions” and said in BBC documentary ‘Two Daughters’ that finding out these details meant “any reserves we had were then cut off”.
Female distrust for the Met has increased since the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard followed by the heavy-handed treatment of women at the subsequent vigil held in Clapham Common.
Patsy Stevenson, the woman at the centre of one of the most famous pictures from that vigil spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the 10-mile march in London which started at Fryent Park.
Ms Stevenson said: “The first solution would be for the police to accept fault and accountability, the next step is for them to completely reform the entire police system, vetting recruits properly and thoroughly whilst also enforcing severe consequences for any misogynistic, homophobic, racist and transphobia behaviour.
“The force needs to allow for whistle blowing without reprimanding officers or allowing bullying within ranks.”
In September last year, the i revealed that over 750 Metropolitan police officers have faced sexual misconduct allegations over the past 11 years with only 83 of them being sacked from the force.
During that time, 162 officers from the Met were arrested for sexual offences, with 38 convicted after appearing in court.
CEO of Sistah Space Ngozi Fulani spoke at the event which concluded outside Scotland Yard said: “I’m glad to see all of you, I am, but look at how many people came out for Sarah…we can sing ‘power to the people’ but it’s not resonating.
“So, when you go back to your Instant gram you go and ask them where they were.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk Ms Fulani said that the march “is an extremely positive event”.
But added: “It is imperative that people understand that Black Lives Matter in light of new information about police attitudes, including misogyny, racism, and child Q.
“The tragic death of Sarah Everard has received worldwide media coverage and widespread reporting.
“Yet Biba, Nicole and Sabina Nessa’s murders have not made nearly as much impact, highlighting the existence of discrimination even in death.”
“Whenever black women are insulted [and] ridiculed…even in death.
“It’s time to examine again the nature of the police and the judicial system and our society as a whole. The march is an effective way of raising awareness in this regard.”
Child Q refers to the safeguarding report that emerged in March of a 15-year-old black schoolgirl who was strip-searched over drug possession allegations.
The safeguarding report concluded the incident to be unjustified with racism “likely” playing a role.
The girl was removed from an exam and strip-searched by two female police officers during which the girl’s intimate body parts were exposed and she was made to remove her sanitary towel.
Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, the organisation that arranged the Sarah Everard vigil before pulling out due to warnings from the Met, also spoke at the demonstration.
Ms Klingler spoke to Express.co.uk about the deaths of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, saying that “women of colour don’t get anywhere near the column inches, or the front covers and the details of this case were worse than anything any of us had ever read”.
She continued: “There’s no way that their bodies should have been found by their loved ones. The fact that they didn’t even send officers – it’s beyond inhumane.”
She added that the actions surrounding the case is “dripping with racism and it needs to be called out again and again”.
The large turnout for the final mile of the march from Trafalgar Square saw many women reiterating the thoughts of Ms Klingler that the reaction of the Metropolitan Police to the deaths of the sisters and the vigil of Ms Everard was the prime example of the “absolute disdain the Met has for women- it is despicable”.
On Tuesday, it emerged from the Met Police that their justification for the heavy handling of the women at the vigil in Clapham was due to fear of violence towards the police as they felt “distress” at the idea it would escalate into an “anti-police protest”.
The police then issued fixed penalty notices to some people at the vigil for breaching coronavirus restrictions, an issue which has raised eyebrows following the conduct of the police force towards the Downing Street lockdown parties, further adding to female distrust.
Following the vigil and further issues of incompetence, racism and sexism from the Met, calls increased for former Commissioner Cressida Dick’s resignation.
Speaking of the former Commissioner, the Reclaim These Streets co-founder said: “Her priority was the Mets reputation and not to serve and protect us.
“There are no preventative measures. They didn’t do things about people flashing, [instead] they talked about facetiming in case there is a fake cop, there wasn’t a fake cop.
“It’s all these red herrings …let’s spend money, let’s do all of this rather than actually addressing the issues that we could talk about. We’ve not been invited to them for anything.”
She added: “We’re supposed to expect that they’re supposed to find rapists in the public when they’re sitting across the desk from them for 14 years and doing nothing about it, like predators in their midst?
“It’s just more of the same, the candidates that are up, more of the same.”
Back in February, the Women’s Equality Party called for an inquiry into misogyny in all police forces including the Met after the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) gave 15 recommendations to the force to alter its internal culture of misogyny, sexism and homophobia.
Ms Klingler scoffed at the idea that the tide might be starting to turn in terms of addressing this issue saying: “Their refusal to do a statutory inquiry says it all.”
Despite the charged atmosphere at the march on Tuesday and the powerful words of speakers and poets above the beats of the drummers also present, there was also an air of futility.
The comments of Ms Fulani about the message not resonating were reiterated by Ms Klingler who said: “If women screaming about it could have fixed it, it would have been fixed a long time ago.
“Nothing has changed…they don’t give a s**t. Women’s safety is a PR exercise to the Met and nothing more.”
The Metropolitan Police were contacted by Express.co.uk for a response.
The force said: “The Met has been rocked by a series of awful events, including the appalling behaviour displayed by officers at Charing Cross police station between 2016 and 2018, the murder of Sarah Everard, the outcome of the Stephen Port inquests and the abhorrent actions of PCs Jaffer and Lewis.
“We are acutely aware that these events have deeply damaged the trust and confidence people have in us.
“There is need for real change in our organisation. More than ever before, we are listening hard and have been looking at ourselves critically, asking difficult questions to improve our culture and professional standards, and we do not underestimate the scale of the change required.
“The Commissioner has asked Baroness Louise Casey to lead an independent and far-reaching review into our culture and standards of professional and personal behaviour. The review will ask difficult questions to ensure there are lasting improvements to the service we provide for all Londoners.”
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