Theresa Villiers MP has received the following update from the Metropolitan Police about security arrangements for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday:
"Dear London MPs
We wanted to update you on the Met’s plans for policing the capital this weekend. While this has subject of considerable news coverage through the week, we wanted to brief you directly about the Policing Plan covering events in relation to Armistice and Remembrance Days, marches and local community events.
- Throughout Saturday and Sunday almost 2,000 officers from the Met and other UK forces will be on duty across central London as part of a major policing operation. 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. The plan covers both Armistice and Remembrance events as well as a significant march by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
- 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 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.
Events in Central London on Saturday and 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 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.
- Concerns have been raised about the safety of poppy sellers at stations and other busy venues. Alongside our colleagues at the British Transport Police we have been clear that 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, officers will remain out and about across the capital, recognising the real and damaging impact the ongoing conflict in the Middle East continues to have on communities here 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.
An experienced public order command team will be in place across the weekend, led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor on Saturday and T/Commander Karen Findlay on Sunday.
As ever, we are grateful for your support in keeping the city safe and secure for everyone who lives, visits and works here – and we will continue to engage with you, as elected representatives of London’s communities as events progress.
We are using the following powers to protect key Remembrance events and locations:
• 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.
• 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 Cenotaph will have a dedicated 24 hour police presence which began on Thursday and will remain in place until the conclusion of remembrance events on Sunday. Officers will be preventing anyone from approaching or interfering with the Cenotaph in any way.
A number of other powers have been 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 17:00hrs.
• 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. 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 10:00hrs on Saturday and 01:00hrs on Sunday. This provides officers with additional powers to search anyone in the area for weapons in order 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 Section 60AA allows officers to require people in the area to remove face coverings that they believe are being worn to conceal their identity.
Plans are 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. 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.
External Relations | Metropolitan Police
New Scotland Yard, Victoria Embankment, London, SW1A 2JL