We are deeply saddened and distressed by the events in Brighton on Saturday evening at the vigil remembering Sarah Everard and challenging violence against women.
The choices made by Sussex Police are extremely difficult to understand. The actions of officers on Saturday evening has sent shockwaves across the community and ruptured trust in the police locally.
We are struck by the fact that women are facing two pandemics currently – Covid-19 and gender-based violence – and that a co-ordinated vigil would have protected attendees from the former while allowing them to challenge the latter. Instead, organisers were prevented by local Police from holding a safe space, and a gathering that came together organically and peacefully was faced with violence at the hands of officers.
Survivors’ Network have worked closely with Sussex Police over the years, and they have sought to demonstrate that they are allies to our work and to survivors more broadly. Their actions this weekend have shocked and disheartened us.
We are writing to them this week to establish the basis for the decisions that were made, and to clarify any lessons learnt. We want to know how they will remedy the loss of trust resulting from their actions this weekend, and how they will better demonstrate their allyship in meaningful and lasting ways.
We will also be reaching out to our local representatives to ask that they challenge the decisions made by Sussex Police, and to seek to open a dialogue more widely around gender-based violence.
What happened was unacceptable, and we must work together to ensure that it can never happen again.
We also want to reiterate that we are here for all survivors – if the past week has been particularly distressing please know that our Helpline is available on Wednesdays 12-2pm on 01273 720 110 or you can email on firstname.lastname@example.org.