Councillor Miskell today suggested that South Yorkshire Police’s approach to vigils this weekend has been ‘misguided’, following the murder of Sarah Everard.
After the Metropolitan police admitted in the high court on Friday that it had discretion on how to respond to protests and that it could not impose a blanket ban on demonstrations, Councillor Miskell suggested that the force should have worked with organisers to ensure that people could exercise their democratic rights in a safe and socially distanced way and not taken a ‘heavy handed approach’ by threatening to fine organisers.
Councillor Miskell said: ‘I think that threatening to fine the women who planned to come together in a safe, socially distanced vigil in Sheffield was the wrong approach. The murder of Sarah Everard has highlighted the epidemic of violence against women and people should have been allowed to collectively grieve safely. The sensitivity of the issue should have been respected.’
He went on to say: ‘Police officers have worked enormously hard during the pandemic, but I think their position on this has been misguided and heavy handed. The emphasis should have been on working with organisers to ensure that people could exercise their democratic rights in a safe and socially distanced way.’
The criticism comes as Labour is set to vote against the government’s new Policing Bill, which Shadow Secretary of State David Lammy has said imposes “disproportionate controls” on the right to protest beyond the pandemic.
Councillor Miskell is a White Ribbon Ambassador and has pledged to play his part in the global White Ribbon movement to end male violence against women, committing to never commit, excuse or remain silence about male violence against women:
‘All men, including those in community leadership roles have a responsibility to speak out against male violence against women. The murder of Sarah Everard should put this at the front of our minds. I encourage other men to join the campaign and play our part in eradicating male violence against women and the culture that perpetuates it’