'Don't gather to mark Sarah Everard death', warns Greater Manchester Police
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has urged people not to gather in large groups to mark the death of Sarah Everard, warning it would be a breach of Covid laws.
The force said it was "shocked and saddened" after the 33-year-old's body was found in woodland in Kent on Friday (March 12), more than a week after she was last spotted on March 3.
Wayne Couzens, 48, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court today (March 13) charged with her murder and kidnap.
And while GMP encouraged people to show their support for Ms Everard, it warned people that gatherings were "unlawful" and put people at risk of getting and spreading the virus.
Instead it urged residents to pay their respect by observing online events or doorstep vigils that have been arranged.
In a statement, GMP said: "We along with the rest of the country are shocked and saddened about what has happened to Sarah Everard and the thoughts of everyone at GMP are with her family and friends at this horrendous time.
"Women should never have to live in fear or change their behaviour to keep themselves safe on our streets and GMP stands with this message and understands why events were planned in support of it.
"We understand there are a number of online events as well as a doorstep vigil that have been arranged for this evening and GMP absolutely supports these and encourages our communities to join them - they allow people to stand together over this important matter in a Covid-safe way and in a way in which complies with government regulations as they currently stand.
"The people of Greater Manchester have already sacrificed a huge amount to tackle the pandemic and keep people safe and we are urging our communities to continue to do the right thing.
"Please do not gather in large groups and put yourselves and others at risk of contracting and spreading the virus."
Their warning comes after organisers confirmed a vigil planned for Ms Everard in South London will not take place .
The vigil had been planned to be held by Reclaim These Streets on Clampham Common this evening, near to where she was last seen alive.
But a High Court judge on Friday refused to intervene in the group's legal challenge on the right to gather to protest during Covid restrictions.
Similar events have also been cancelled in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Birmingham.