Police urge people not to attend Suffolk vigils for Sarah Everard

Undated handout issued by the Metropolitan Police showing missing woman Sarah Everard, 33, who left

Police have confirmed that the human remains found in Kent are those of missing Sarah Everard, 33. - Credit: PA

Police are discouraging people in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds from attending vigils honouring Sarah Everard.

The vigils are due to be held at 6pm on Saturday night at the Ipswich Cornhill and Angel Hill in Bury, following the 33-year-old's disappearance while walking home in Clapham.

The marketing executive's death has shocked the nation, with women all over the country speaking out about their fears of walking home alone and not making it back safely.

A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder and remains in custody.

The Reclaim These Streets movement plans to hold 97-second silences, to represent the percentage of women who have been sexually harassed in the UK.

However, police are urging people not to attend vigils in Suffolk due to the lockdown rules. 

Suffolk police said it "cannot waive the Covid regulations for any one type of gathering".

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A spokesman said: “We understand the strength of feeling and people’s desire to come together to mourn Sarah Everard, as well as to make a statement and organise on the issue of women’s safety.

"However, the Covid-19 regulations do not permit large gatherings because of the very real risks of the spread of the virus.

“Police must take a consistent approach to policing the regulations and cannot waive the regulations for any one type of gathering.

“We support opportunities to conduct vigils through online means, but we must discourage in-person protests and vigils in the strongest terms.

"We are currently explaining this position to those who are considering organising vigils in Ipswich and Bury, and are appealing to them, as well as anyone considering attending, to reconsider their plans this weekend.

“We will continue to follow the four Es - to encourage, engage and explain and use enforcement where there are breaches of the law.”

The vigil - which organisers Laura and Grace, who have asked us not to use their surnames, say is still going ahead - is due to be held at Ipswich Cornhill at 6pm on Saturday night.

The number of people in the heart of Ipswich is still way down on pre-lockdown levels. Picture: ARCH

The vigil will take place at 6pm on Saturday night in front of the Town Hall in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Laura is a criminology lecturer and said it "feels barbaric" that this is still happening decades after the first Reclaim The Night event in 1977 in response to the "Yorkshire Ripper" murders. 

"This happens everywhere," said Laura. 

"Women walk home with their keys in their hands, they carefully choose which shoes they will wear so they can run, they pretend to be on the phone and the list goes on.

"Women are in constant danger on our streets and it is time for us to address this now."

The organisers said they have spoken with Suffolk police about hosting the vigil and are aware of the risks they face with being fined. 

They said they will work alongside police on the day and are encouraging anyone with any symptoms of Covid-19 to stay home. 

Three-metre distancing markers will be in place, face masks will be required at all times and people are advised to download the NHS contact tracing app before attending. 

If you don’t feel safe or don’t wish to attend, there is an online vigil being held by the Reclaim The Night Ipswich - Rape Crisis on Facebook.

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