More than half of people have backed the Metropolitan Police over its handling of the vigil held for Sarah Everard last weekend, according to a survey.

Four people were arrested for public order and coronavirus regulation breaches during Saturday’s vigil – with accusations police were heavy handed.

The research, commissioned by the crime and justice consultancy, Crest Advisory, showed 56% of men supported the tactics, compared with 50% of women.

Slightly more Londoners backed the police’s handling of the event (44%) than disagreed with it (38%) – but nearly half of young adults aged 18-24 (46%) thought officers should not have intervened in the way they did.

Asked who was viewed as being most responsible for the scuffles which took place between officers and people attending the event, 43% of respondents said “members of the public”, with 29% blaming the police.

Just 9% said they blamed the government, which had introduced the coronavirus laws restricting gatherings

Women and Londoners were more evenly split on who was to blame, while young people aged 18-24 (39%) and Labour voters (42%) were more likely to say the police were mainly responsible.

The survey, of 1,672 adults, also questioned people about new government plans to allow the police to impose stricter conditions on protests after the pandemic, in order to prevent noise and serious disruption.

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Opinion was sharply divided, with 38% saying they “strongly” or “slightly” supported them, and 36% saying they were opposed.

Harvey Redgrave, chief executive of Crest Advisory, said: “Today’s poll shows the police retain widespread public consent for their approach to the pandemic, despite the negative headlines of the last few days.”

Addressing the poll findings about the new Bill, Mr Redgrave added: “The government’s new proposals on the policing of protest do not appear to have clear majority consent, which will fuel fears that the legislation is likely to put the police in an increasingly awkward position.”

Ms Everard disappeared on 3 March while walking back to her home in Brixton, south London.

Her body was found a week later in woodland in Ashford, Kent and was identified through dental records.

Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, will face trial on 25 October, charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard.

(c) Sky News 2021: Sarah Everard vigil: More than half of people support Met Police handling of event – survey

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