Statement by Liberal Democrat candidate for Northumbria PCC Peter Maughan

Responding to overnight events in Clapham, Liberal Democrat candidate for Northumbria PCC Peter Maughan said: "I fully understand and sympathise with the emotions of those wishing to express their grief at the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard and support efforts to end male violence against women. I also recognise the sensitivity involved in policing vigils and peaceful protest given the current coronavirus restrictions and the importance of public safety. I am aware that requests to hold a vigil in Newcastle this weekend were refused by Northumbria Police.

The events in London overnight will have jarred many people and there is legitimate criticism of the Metropolitan Police's response at Clapham Common.  In the circumstances it is valid to question whether the Metropolitan Police commander retains the confidence of the public.

I believe the public in our region deserve to know what the Northumbria PCC's position is on this issue, as there has so far been no comment from her since last night's events.

I also believe it is in the public interest to know the positions of both the PCC and the Conservative candidate in respect of the public order provisions in Part 3 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill due to be considered by Parliament this week.

My own view is that the Government's proposed provisions contain draconian restrictions on the right to legitimate peaceful protest such as the vigil at Clapham last night, and I am troubled at the prospect that such tactics could become commonplace against peaceful protest in our country if the Bill passes.

The police deserve our respect for the very difficult job they do in difficult circumstances, but policing must always rely on community consent and respect for civil rights. I am concerned that Part 3 of the Bill has the potential to bring about much more authoritarian policing against legitimate public protest and risks being corrosive to public trust and confidence in the police and in the Government."

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