The Mayor of Greater Manchester has demanded answers from the Greater Manchester Police following the arrest of a protestor that left her exposed in her underwear.
Andy Burnham has asked the police for a “full explanation” in light of the incident.
The incident took place as 18 people were arrested during a ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration in the city centre on Saturday evening, where police had allowed protesters to march in a large group and give speeches denouncing the government’s new legislation that critics say would restrict the right to protest.
But when a small group of protestors chose to sit down and block tram lines in St Peter’s Square, riot police moved in.
Following the demonstration – which has been widely-reported in local and national media – campaigners complained that officers used heavy-handed tactics by pushing and dragging people out of the area, and the images that have emerged of the arrest of a young woman have provoked particular outrage on social media.
It appeared that as the woman was dragged away, her jeans were pulled down leaving her exposed in just her underwear, and while eyewitnesses said an officer made attempts to pull her jeans back up, the scene prior had already been captured by a number of photographers.
One image shared on Twitter accuses the GMP of having “stripped” the woman publicly.
Andy Burnham was also tagged in the photo by another Twitter user – Mike / @TwobobTwobo2 – who stated: “I do hope you’ll be doing something about this Andy.” to which Mr Burnham responded yesterday evening: “I am Mike.
“I have started by asking Greater Manchester Police to provide a full explanation of what happened.”
Mr Burnham and Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes had previously backed the police’s response regarding their decision to break up the protesters, particularly in relation to those obstructing the tram lines, as the force stated the group refused to comply with instructions when asked to move away from the area.
“GMP had to manage a challenging situation carefully and we did not see a repeat of scenes seen in other parts of the country recently,” they said in a statement.
This morning, following Mr Burnham’s confirmation that he has asked the force to provide a “full explanation of what happened”, Greater Manchester Police has taken to Twitter to issue a brief initial statement addressing the nature of the incident.
The statement reads: “We are aware of the images and videos of a woman partially exposed when being arrested following Saturday’s protest in the city centre, which make for uncomfortable viewing.
“An urgent review is underway to establish circumstances,”.
The force also confirmed that an update will follow this initial statement “in due course”.
This brief statement comes after Greater Manchester Police had previously confirmed that Saturday’s demonstration had remained “largely peaceful” and “contained”, but then defended their decision to break up protestors obstructing tram lines when the group were repeatedly asked by officers and partners from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to move, but some failed to comply with this order.
Addressing the nature of the demonstration in an earlier statement, a spokesperson for the force said: “In all events, we have used the four Es approach, with a particular emphasis on engagement, to work our way through the challenges presented to us.
“Where this has been exhausted without success, we have moved to enforcement action where necessary.
“We continually prioritise the assessment of risk, the disruption caused, and importantly the safety of the wider public throughout.”
Featured Image: BBC North West / Twitter