The leader of the Metropolitan police has cautioned that his department will be extremely severe when handling demonstrations in support of Palestine. He also stated that the threat of terrorism in the UK is increasing due to ongoing events in the Middle East.
Mark Rowley, the Commissioner, stated that he is in favor of examining the legal interpretation of extremism and its enforcement. Government officials have also urged for a more stringent approach to handling protests, although they have acknowledged that existing laws are sufficient in addressing violations.
During an interview on the Trevor Phillips on Sunday show on Sky News, Rowley stated that there will be a higher number of arrests in the upcoming weeks. He also mentioned that they will strictly adhere to the law and will not hesitate to take action. He added that there will be numerous arrests within the next week.
He stated: “This is a very difficult period. There are multiple threats at play. We are facing state threats from Iran, an increase in terrorism due to recent events and hate crimes in communities. Jewish communities are experiencing a fourteen-fold rise in antisemitism in London, while Muslim communities are facing a nearly threefold increase. This is a precarious situation and on top of it all, we are also dealing with large state protests.”
After protests in London, where thousands of demonstrators gathered to demand a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, this development occurred.
On Sunday, authorities announced that five individuals were arrested and charged in connection with a demonstration held on Saturday, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The event drew a crowd of approximately 100,000 people in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The charges against the individuals included racially-motivated public disturbances and causing physical harm to a police officer.
On Sunday, The Met also announced the arrest of two women for allegedly inciting racial hatred following an occurrence at Trafalgar Square on Saturday.
“After our previous request, two individuals have been apprehended for potentially encouraging racial animosity in Trafalgar Square,” the police department announced on Twitter. “We are grateful to the community for aiding in spreading our message and for reporting the incident immediately. The suspects are currently in custody.”
A statement was issued stating that one of the women was arrested for a racially motivated public disturbance, while the other was released and will not be facing any additional charges following a ruling by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Metropolitan Police faced criticism for not making any arrests when the word “jihad” was shouted at a fundamentalist protest. The police determined that the use of this term did not constitute a legal offense, but some government officials expressed disapproval of their decision.
On Sunday, Rowley stated that he is in favor of examining the current definition of extremism and determining the appropriate way to enforce it.
“There is room for improvement in how we address extremism within our country,” he stated. “The laws were not specifically created to handle extremism, as they mainly focus on terrorism and hate crimes. As a result, there is a gap in our legal system when it comes to dealing with extremism.”
When questioned about potential changes to the official definition of extremism, Michelle Donelan, the secretary for science, innovation, and technology, stated that she believes the existing laws are strong and comprehensive.
“We are confident that the current legislation is suitable for its purpose. The Terrorism Act and Public Order Act can be utilized in situations where individuals are actively advocating for a terrorist group or provoking hate and promoting violence,” she stated. “We have already witnessed such actions and have made arrests. The Home Secretary has been collaborating with the police to enforce stricter measures. We continuously monitor the situation.”
When asked if the government was reviewing the definition of extremism, Donelan stated that they believe existing laws are adequate but will make changes if they are deemed insufficient in the next few weeks.
The science secretary responsible for shadowing, Peter Kyle, advised against rushing to judgment when questioned about the possibility of Israel committing war crimes in Gaza. He stated, “We have advocated for the adherence to international law at all times, while keeping in mind that Hamas did not comply with international law when they crossed the border, attacked, and caused harm to 1,400 individuals and took 200 prisoners.”
He stated that the Labour party is not considering potential gains or losses in votes as they declare their stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
He stated that our focus is not on gaining votes or predicting the ones we may lose. Instead, we are faced with the reality of war and conflict, as well as heartbreaking human suffering on a level that has not been witnessed in a considerable amount of time.