Police to form Armistice Day ‘ring of steel’: Met chiefs cancel leave, extend overtime and draft in 1,000 more officers from across Britain to quash any hint of trouble around minute’s silence and protests
- Senior public order officers are set to give orders to immediately clamp down
The Met are set to form a ‘ring of steel’ to quash any hint of trouble around this week’s Remembrance events amid fears of a pro-Palestine protest clashing with the Armistice Day parades.
Police chiefs have cancelled leave, extended overtime and drafted in 1,000 more officers from across Britain to reinforce their ranks.
And senior public order officers are set to give orders to immediately clamp down on any criminality or violence.
It comes after Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley refused to ban pro-Palestine rallies on Armistice Day – saying he legally had ‘no power’ to stop it.
But he did not rule out action if protesters disrupted the remembrance events – saying the force would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’.
More than 70,000 people are expected to flock to London on Saturday to protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza – a few hours after a two-minute silence will be held at the Cenotaph for fallen servicemen and women.
Police chiefs have cancelled leave, extended overtime and drafted in 1,000 more officers from across Britain to reinforce their ranks. Pictured: File image
Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley did not rule out action if protesters disrupted the remembrance events – saying the force would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’. Pictured: Police officers guard ‘The Cenotaph’ on October 28
Sir Mark refused to ban Palestine rallies on Armistice Day – saying he legally had ‘no power’ to stop it
More than 70,000 people are expected to flock to London on Saturday to protest against Israel ‘s bombardment of Gaza. Pictured: Pro Palestinian protesters on Saturday October 28, London
The Met faces further challenges from the far-Right, with fears growing that members will clash with protesters.
Sir Mark said he could not ban Saturday’s demonstration simply because people felt it should not take place.
‘The laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest, therefore there will be a protest this weekend,’ he insisted.
‘The law provides no mechanism to ban a static gathering of people. It contains legislation which allows us to impose conditions to reduce disruption and the risk of violence, and in the most extreme cases when no other tactics can work, for marches or moving protests to be banned.’
He said use of the power to block moving protests is ‘incredibly rare’ and must be reserved for cases where there is intelligence to suggest a ‘real threat’ of serious disorder.
But he said organisers of Saturday’s march had shown ‘complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation’s remembrance events’.
‘Should this change, we’ve been clear we will use powers and conditions available to us to protect locations and events of national importance at all costs,’ Sir Mark said.
Gangs of football hooligans have said they are planning to ‘team up’ and ‘protect’ the Cenotaph from pro-Palestine protestors this weekend.
Sir Mark Rowley said use of the power to block moving protests is ‘incredibly rare’ and must be reserved for cases where there is intelligence to suggest a ‘real threat’ of serious disorder. Pictured: Poppy vendor counter is disturbed by a pro-Palestinian demonstrators November 4
The memorial cross placed by Queen Camilla during a visit to the Field of Remembrance, in its 95th year, at Westminster Abbey in London, ahead of Armistice Day
Sir Mark said he could not ban Saturday’s demonstration simply because people felt it should not take place. Pictured: Protesters on November 4
READ MORE: Police arrest two teenagers after ‘Free Palestine’ was sprayed over Rochdale war memorial and poppy wreaths were trashed
Police said two teenage males had been detained on suspicion of causing racially aggravated criminal damage
Officers fear more than a thousand, including far-Right thugs, will descent on London, where a rally against Israeli attacks on Gaza is set to take place.
One group, named ‘Football Lads Against Extremism’, claims veterans have reached out and asked for their support ‘due to the threat from the far left and pro-Palestine supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade’.
They are calling on ‘all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom’.
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has also rallied his likeminded peers to join him on Saturday.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, wrote on X yesterday shortly after he was reinstated to the social media platform: ‘Saturday 11/11/11 London, your country needs you.’
In a ranting video, Robinson spoke of ‘a mass of men who are willing to stand for their country’.
The tirade came after Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terror legislation, warned that there were concerns of ‘an extreme Right-wing terrorist backlash’ if Saturday’s demonstration against the conflict in the Middle East goes ahead.
Scotland Yard this week gave the green light to a pro-Palestine rally on Armistice Day as its top cop claimed it had ‘no absolute power’ to ban the protest.
In a thinly veiled swipe at the Home Secretary, Sir Mark said the laws of Parliament and intelligence gathered by its sources did not justify a ban.
The country’s most senior police officer said the protest, which is expected to draw in 70,000 people, could only be banned if there was a ‘real threat’ of serious disorder.
This was despite fears of violent clashes between the marchers and Right-wing activists. The rally’s organisers had already rebuffed the Met’s pleas to postpone.
They have also defied Rishi Sunak, who said the event was ‘disrespectful’, and Suella Braverman, who called it a ‘hate march’.
Previous rallies have seen officers injured with fireworks, protesters flaunting extremist imagery and multiple arrests for anti-Semitic chanting.
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