Monday, 4 Dec 2023

Manchester police probe as cops filmed tearing down posters of Israeli hostages

Police appear to remove hostage posters along a wall

A Greater Manchester Police officer has been filmed removing Hamas hostage posters from a hoarding in the city.

Footage shared on social media appears to show a cop pulling the posters from a temporary wall at a building site in Bury Old Road in the Whitefield neighbourhood of Manchester.

Several posters appeared in parts of the city, including in Bury Old Road at the border of Crumpsall and Prestwich where there is a large Jewish community.

The posters share photos and personal details of some of the 240 hostage taken hostage by Hamas gunmen during their bloody attack on Israel on October 7.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed the actions caught on camera go against police guidance and an investigation has now been launched.

It comes after officers from London’s Metropolitan Police were pictured tearing down hostage posters from a shopfront in the capital. Their removal sparked outrage, with a man whose cousin is being held hostage by Hamas telling the force its officers need to get their priorities straight.

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GMP Asst Ch Cons Wasim Chaudhry said of the Bury Old Road incident: “We know the ongoing conflict in the Middle East is causing great distress to members of Greater Manchester’s Jewish community and our thoughts remain with them at this time.

“The force has increased engagement with representatives, including the (UK Jewish charity) Community Security Trust, to ensure they feel heard and understood by GMP and to ensure their safety within the city and our neighbourhoods.”

Mr Chaudhry said the force shared the concerns over the removal of the posters and the action taken in response to complaints about the posters was against guidance the force had issued to staff about flyposting.

He added: “We will continue to work with local authorities and the community to ensure posters can be displayed. We regret any offence caused.”

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Ch Cons Stephen Watson told the BBC on Tuesday (October 31) the officer was a PCSO who had “got it wrong”.

He said: “I’m very concerned about it. It runs entirely contrary to the instructions we’ve given to our officers in terms of dealing with this.”

Mr Watson added: “I can assure you our professional standards department are looking at that as we speak. My early understanding is there were a series of complaints about the posters; an officer has been deployed – in fact it was a PCSO – and the PCSO, under instruction, removed the posters.

The top cop said there was nothing malicious in the officer’s intent, but he admitted the force responded badly to a complaint and in his view had got the response wrong.

Marc Levy, Chief Executive of the Jewish Representative Council in Manchester, told the Jewish community in Greater Manchester is “incredibly grateful” to GMP for its response since the October 7 attack.

He said: “Greater Manchester Police have been fantastic with the community since the 7th October and the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas. They have given us a tremendous amount of reassurance.

“This officer was advised to do something he should not have done. In addition to the Chief Constable, the mayor (Andy Burnham) have said it was an error. We’re satisfied with that. We know it won’t happen again. They made a mistake and they acknowledged it.”

On sentiment among Manchester’s Jewish community, Mr Levy said: “The community is incredibly anxious. There’s no getting away from that. We usually see a huge surge in hate crime when there is violence in the Middle East.

“The (current) surge in hate crime is at an unprecedented level. People are naturally very nervous. People are nervous about sending their children to school. Our schools and synagogues are behind gates. We should not have to live with that level of security around us. People are very, very concerned.”

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