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People urged not to gather in public to remember Sarah Everard

People are being urged not to gather in public and instead attend commemorative events online following the death of Sarah Everard. 

Warning residents to follow the current government regulations, Greater Manchester Police say it "absolutely supports" the doorstep vigil and other online events organised in the wake of the 33-year-old's tragic murder in South London. 

Under the current lockdown rules, people are required to stay at home and can only gather in larger groups for limited reasons, such as funerals or for education. Police can break up illegal gatherings and issue fines of £10,000 to organisers of gatherings consisting of more than 30 people.

The force has also said it "stands with the message" that women should never have to live in fear or change their behaviour to keep themselves safe on our streets. 

Ms Everard had last been seen on 3 March in Clapham, south London, on her way home from a friend's house.  

Human remains were discovered in woodland near Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday and detectives confirmed on Friday that they belong to Ms Everard. 

Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has appeared in court charged with Ms Everard's kidnap and murder after being arrested on Tuesday. 

A GMP spokesperson 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 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."

The region's mayor says there will be a "comprehensive and radical strategy" to "change the story on violence towards women and girls" in Greater Manchester. 

In a statement released on Thursday evening (11 March), Mr Burnham said women shouldn't have to change their behaviour because of "unacceptable behaviour by men" and leaders in Greater Manchester are "committed to tackling the attitudes and behaviours that have led to where we are today". 

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