Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick is being urged to resign over the force's handling of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard.
Videos circulating on social media show male police officers grabbing and restraining some of the women attending the scene.
Scotland Yard confirmed in a statement at around 4am that four attendees had been arrested for breaching Covid-19 restrictions and public order offences.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that he is 'urgently seeking an explanation' for the events that took place, while Labour leader Keir Starmer branded the police's handling of the vigil as 'deeply disturbing'.
He added: "This was not the way to police this protest."
Campaign group Reclaim These Streets had initially been in talks with the Met Police regarding a planned vigil, suggesting alternatives for it to go ahead, including staggered times for mourners to attend Clapham Common.
But it was eventually cancelled, with the group instead asking supporters to participate in a doorstep vigil.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey said that the handling of the case by Dame Cressida was a 'complete abject tactical and moral failure on the part of the police'.
He continued: "We therefore call on you to consider your leadership of the service and whether you can continue to have the confidence of the millions of women in London that you have a duty to safeguard and protect."
Reclaim These Streets said in a statement: "This week of all weeks, the police should have understood that women would need a place to mourn reflect and show solidarity. Now is the time for the police and the government to recognise that the criminal justice system is failing women.
"Tonight, it has failed women again, in the most destructive way."
Part of the police statement from Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball read: "Police must act for people's safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.
"Those who gathered were spoken to by officers on a number of occasions and over an extended period of time. We repeatedly encouraged those who were there to comply with the law and leave. Regrettably, a small minority of people began chanting at officers, pushing and throwing items.
"After speaking with officers, the vast majority of people quickly left. Four arrests have been made for public order offences and for breaches of the Health Protection Regulations.
"Part of the reason I am speaking to you tonight is because we accept that the actions of our officers have been questioned.
"We absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary. But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people's safety.
"Let me end by saying that across the Met, we review every single event that we police to see if there are lessons that can be learnt. This one will be no different."
Featured Image Credit: James Veysey/Shutterstock
Topics: UK News
- Thousands March On Parliament Square In Protest Over Police Handling Of Sarah Everard Vigil
- Judge Refuses To Intervene After Met Police Ban Sarah Everard Vigil
- Police Chief Constable responds to criticism over officers dancing at pride parade while on duty
- People urged not to drink too much on New Year's Eve by chief medical officer