Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

What can the police do to stop Remembrance Day protests

Police are expected to launch a large-scale operation to crack down on protests surrounding Remembrance Sunday.

Rishi Sunak has warned that the Cenotaph, along with other war memorials, could be “desecrated” if protests are able to go ahead unchecked.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are planning to take to the streets to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East on Armistice Day on Saturday, November 11, as well as Remembrance Sunday on November 12.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Sunak said: “To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.

“The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected.”

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Home secretary Suella Braverman may grant police extra powers to prevent them interrupting ceremonies.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, Ms Braverman will be able to ban protests from certain areas if police believe there is a disorder risk.

The Met has committed to a “significant policing and security operation,” and added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of anyone attending commemorative events.”

The force said it will take a “zero-tolerance approach” to “those who commit hate crime and criminal disruption”.

Retrospective facial recognition software will also be in use to crack down on protesters.

Officers have been increasing patrols following a rise in both antisemitic and islamophobic hate crimes since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

Commander Karen Findlay, who is responsible for policing in London this week, said: “I have heard first hand from faith leaders and others of the devastating impact of recent events for Londoners.

“Hate crime sadly continues to rise. This will not be tolerated.

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“My message to our officers is clear – we will be taking positive action at every opportunity when we are alerted to crimes, particularly those which are inflammatory and fuelled by hate.”

In total, 133 people have been arrested for crimes including racially aggravated public order offences, assaulting police and criminal damage since October 7.

Three women have also been held for terrorism offences, two after being seen wearing images of paragliders and a third suspected of supporting Hamas online.

Of the 133 arrested, 26 people have been charged, 14 for allegations of Antisemitism and six for allegations of Islamophobia.

Amid fears the march could disrupt the two-minute silence commemorating the war dead, security minister Tom Tugendhat has written to the mayor of London and Westminster Council asking them to ensure police minimise any impact the protest could have.

They responded that the ability to give the police extra powers to tackle protesters lies with Suella Braverman.

The London mayor said Mr Tugendhat should stop “posturing” to the media and speak to the home secretary himself.

Massive protests attended by up to 100,000 people have been taking place in London every weekend since Israel began to bomb Gaza in retaliation to the Hamas attack.

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