The Daily Telegraph

Policing pro-palestine demonstrat­ions until Christmas is unsustaina­ble, say Met officers

- By Will Bolton crime correspond­ent The Times,

POLICING mass pro-palestinia­n protests every weekend until Christmas is unsustaina­ble and drags officers away from neighbourh­ood duties, the Metropolit­an Police Federation has warned.

The federation, which represents the rank and file, said that there was “no magic box of public order officers” the force could roll out to police the protests.

On Saturday, Armistice Day, upwards of 300,000 demonstrat­ors headed to the streets of London to protest against the conflict in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, condemned far-right “thugs” and “Hamas sympathise­rs” after a day of violence resulted in more than 100 arrests.

In what was the biggest pro-palestinia­n march to date, thousands of people made their way from Marble Arch to the US embassy in Nine Elms, south London. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has organised the protests, did not respond when asked how long it planned to continue demonstrat­ing.

Rick Prior, chairman of the Metropolit­an Police Federation, said that the combined effect of large pro-palestinia­n protests at weekends and Just Stop Oil protests during the week would strain resources.

He said that while the force had the numbers to safely police the protests, ongoing disruption would pull officers away from other duties.

He said: “We have got the resources but to do it week in week out is not sustainabl­e. It’ll be the same officers who are getting their leave cancelled every weekend.

“They are being taken away from their communitie­s, neighbourh­ood policing, whatever that it is that they do on a day-to-day normal

job outside of public order policing. We have no magic box of police officers that we open for public order, they are your normal day-to-day, frontline staff.”

Mr Prior also warned that officers were being moved from specialist roles to help with the protests, including some working in Profession­al Standards, the department that handles misconduct cases.

He added: “So officers from the profession­al standards department are coming out on weekends.

“But in doing that it means that they are abstracted from their day job during the week.

“It effectivel­y means they are working one less day a week on misconduct cases, which obviously will end up being an issue.” The warning came after British Transport Police announced that it had arrested three men after football fans became involved in a “racist” attack at Waterloo station on Armistice Day.

Social media footage showed some men behaving aggressive­ly and squaring up to passengers.

One branded those filming him as “terrorist c----”.

His comments came as British retailers warned that continued protests that led to significan­t road closures in the capital would have a significan­t impact in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independen­t Retailers Associatio­n, said: “Demonstrat­ions combined with the usual increase of Christmas shoppers will put extra strain on the central London infrastruc­ture, and it may deter people from going into London on the days of the protests.

“This would be bad news for those retail businesses in the centre of London.”

He said, however, that the protests could also see more people outside the capital shopping locally which he said “would be welcome from the view of independen­t retailers”.

Just Stop Oil has added to the disruption in the capital with their latest campaign of slow marches.

Yesterday, Scotland Yard detained more than 100 of the group’s activists in the capital with the environmen­tal campaigner­s claiming they had “overwhelme­d” the Met.

More than 100 protesters were detained in Hendon Way, north London, prompting the force to issue a

‘Police are being taken away from whatever it is that they do on a day-to-day basis’

direct response to Just Stop Oil’s claim.a spokesman said: “All your activists who were slow marching in the road today have been arrested.

“Your activists showed no inclinatio­n to leave the road, the only way they are is in the back of a police van.

“More than 110 activists have been arrested. Londoners continue to face the brunt and cost of this.”

Last week, Suella Braverman, the former Home Secretary, clashed with Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolit­an Police Commission­er, after she accused the force of bias in its handling of protests.

In an article for Mrs Braverman claimed Right-wing protesters were “rightly met with a stern response”, while “pro-palestinia­n mobs” were “largely ignored”.

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 ?? ?? Suella Braverman was sacked from her job as Home Secretary yesterday morning
Suella Braverman was sacked from her job as Home Secretary yesterday morning

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