MPS releases details of ‘significant policing operation’ across Remembrance weekend
Almost 2,000 officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and other UK forces will be on duty across central London throughout Saturday and Sunday as part of a major policing operation for Remembrance weekend.
The MPS says its plan covers both Armistice and Remembrance events as well as a significant march by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
To protect national remembrance events and locations, particularly the Cenotaph, an exclusion zone will be put in place covering Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance and other relevant areas, in effect banning those on the march from these locations, the force said.
Anyone believed to be part of, or associated with, the pro-Palestinian demonstration trying to assemble in this area can be arrested. There will be metal barriers and officers in place to protect it.
The MPS said the Cenotaph will have a dedicated 24-hour police presence until the conclusion of remembrance events on Sunday. Officers will be preventing anyone from approaching or interfering with the Cenotaph in any way.
In a statement, the MPS said: “This weekend is one of national significance and importance. The ceremonial events taking place will draw thousands as the country reflects and pays its respects.
“Each year we deliver a huge security operation across Remembrance weekend, but this year’s is far greater and more complex than we’ve delivered before.
“We know the cumulative impact continued protest, increasing tensions, and rising hate crimes are having across London and the fear and anxiety our Jewish communities in particular are feeling. They have a right to feel safe in their city, knowing know they can travel across London without feeling afraid of intimidation or harassment.”
Recognising the concern across London, the MPS said the scale of the policing operation in place represents a “doubling of the number of officers on duty” for the weekend’s events. On Saturday 1,850 will be on duty and 1,375 on Sunday.
“We’ll be using an extensive set of powers to prevent any disruption whatsoever to Remembrance events, policing the demonstration as it passes through parts of the capital, while protecting our communities from those intent on inciting hate, violence and disorder,” the force said.
“The powers we’ve put in place enable us to more quickly and robustly identify and arrest those seeking to use these events to commit crime or cause disorder.
“During protests since the attacks on 7 October we’ve seen small groups break away from planned events. Their behaviour has been escalating and becoming more violent and distressing to the public. Over the last four major events we have made more than 100 arrests for offences including supporting proscribed organisations and serious hate crime.
“Each week we’ve developed our tactics to more quickly deal with anyone committing crime locally in our communities and at significant events.
“Our operation covers every element of this weekend and will continue to develop as we gather intelligence and learn of new issues.”
It added: “This week concerns have been raised about the safety of poppy sellers at stations and other busy venues.
“Alongside our colleagues at British Transport Police we have been clear no intimidation of those who so generously give up their time for this treasured national cause will be tolerated. Officers know the risk felt by sellers and should be sought out by anyone concerned throughout the weekend.”
While this operation is delivered in central London, the MPS said officers will remain out across the capital recognising the “real and damaging impact” the ongoing conflict in the Middle East continues to have on communities in London.
“Officers will be visiting busy areas and locations of significance, and providing support and reassurance to those we know are greatly concerned about travelling to places of worship at this time of great uncertainty and tension,” it said.
A number of powers are being used to limit the likelihood of disorder at the main protest.
Anyone taking part must stick to the pre-agreed route which takes the march far away from Whitehall. The march and speeches must end at 5pm.
Protestors may not enter certain areas next to the US Embassy. They may not gather in the streets around the Israeli Embassy in High Street Kensington.
“In recent weeks smaller groups have broken away after the main protest and committed offences and created disorder,” said the MPS.
“To prevent this, a dispersal zone will be in place covering key central London locations including Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Anyone refusing to disperse can be arrested.”
A section 60 and 60AA power will be in place covering a significant area of Westminster and parts of Wandsworth and Lambeth between 10am on Saturday and 1am on Sunday.
This provides officers with additional powers to search anyone in the area for weapons to prevent violence occurring.
“This step is being taken in response to concerns that counter protestors may be intending to confront those taking part in the main protest march,” the MPS said.
“The section 60AA allows officers to require people in the area to remove face coverings that they believe are being worn to conceal their identity.”
It added that plans were also in place to deal with car convoys travelling to London from elsewhere in the UK:
“In previous years, convoys of cars have passed through Jewish communities with occupants waving flags and shouting anti-Semitic abuse,” said the MPS.
“They understandably caused significant concern, fear and upset.
“We have been working with officers from forces outside London to ensure we’re aware of any planned convoys so we can intervene as they approach and be kept away from Jewish communities.
“We will have specialist traffic officers in cars and on motorcycles as well as public order officers deployed to keep communities safe and to ensure any cars travelling towards the protest do not commit offences.
“If anyone in the convoys commits an offence, they will be dealt with.”
The MPS confirmed an experienced public order command team will be in place across the weekend, being led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor on Saturday and T/Commander Karen Findlay on Sunday.