The Metropolitan Police Federation has defended officers after they came under fire following the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard – which sadly turned into a protest.
Ken Marsh, Federation Chair, told talkRadio that the issue of policing protests during the pandemic had become politicised and that officers are coming under pressure from the “constant barrage” of new legislation they are expected to police.
Speaking about the vigil, he added: “If we are lawfully instructed to do something, we do it. It was all lawful and we have no choice in what we are doing. We can’t do a Piers [Morgan] and just walk off, we have to get on with it.
“We tried to do everything in a rational, professional way and I hear you say the words ‘manhandled’, but no-one was injured at all in us arresting them…If you are arrested…we have to protect you. And if you are thrashing around and jumping about and you are injured, that is our responsibility.
“That is why it takes four or five police officers who are trained how to restrain and handcuff. 99 per cent of them we de-arrested after we got their details.”
Policing is becoming more difficult because of the recent politicisation of protests in this country, Ken added. He said officers are being criticised by politicians for policing the very legislation they brought in.
He said: “We have been bombarded by this Government. 67 new pieces of legislation have been put in front of my colleagues. It beggars belief what they are asking my colleagues to do. I can’t believe I am not on the radio talking about the hundreds and hundreds of incidents we have got wrong because we have had such little time to prepare before we are on the front line.
“I think we have done an amazing job. It appalls me when the Mayor comes out with the commentary that he has come out with, without the facts – and other members of Government. It is unfair. We get bashed constantly.
“There are such good boys and girls in the police who just want to do their jobs. You don’t join the police because you want to be rich. You don’t join the police for any other reason than you want to serve. You want to give something to society. Allow them to do that and stop using them as pawns in political games because that is what is going on and it’s so wrong.”
He told Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The hearts and minds of every police officer goes out to Sarah and her family… Can I put on record that every single cop out there is disgusted by what has taken place and we will do our utmost to work vigilantly to keep you all safe.”