Pro-Palestine protester waves flag from Central London rooftop
Rishi Sunak is set to push for an end to the Met Police’s current strategy of refusing to arrest anti-Semitic protestors at Palestine marches, and instead asking social media for help tracking them down after the march has finished.
The Prime Minister wants antisemites arrested immediately at protests, amid plans to make prosecutions for glorifying terrorism easier.
Mr Sunak is preparing a new five-point plan to allow the police to prohibit provocative chants as a condition of allowing the now-weekly pro-Palestine protests to go ahead, and to take into account the “cumulative effect” of weeks of marches when deciding to ban a protest.
The news comes after Lord Walney, the Government’s independent advisor on political violence and disruption, said the “explosion of attacks on Jews in the UK since 7 October is a national emergency”.
His review recommends an urgent change in the law to give police the powers to ban marches on the grounds of fuelling antisemitic crime.
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Under current legislation, Lord Walney explained, the police can only make a judgement to ban a march based on the threat of serious violence or disorder on any given day.
He said: “They cannot take into account the cumulative effect of the marches as a factor in increasing attacks and intimidation.”
Mr Sunak is also set to close loopholes in protest laws, with a new four-point plan that will include:
- New laws to ban protesters claiming on statues, scaffolding and bus stops
- Tightening up the current laws around fireworks, smoke bombs and flares
- Lowering the threshold at which the police can take a decision to ban a protest
- Tightening up the current law around glorifying terrorists, which the police argue is too vague to currently enforce.
Mr Sunak is also hoping to clamp down on protesters chanting “from the river to the sea” by working with organisers to set conditions for allowing the marches to go ahead.
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In a meeting with Sir Mark Rowley this week, the Prime Minister is expected to demand answers on why more arrests of pro-Palestine protesters weren’t made.
145 people were arrested by the Met on Saturday, but they largely consisted of far-right counter-protesters.
After the protest, the Met posted a number of photographs of antisemitic pro-Palestine protesters on their social media feed, asking the public for help identifying them.
The police also failed to act against repeat chants of “from the river to the sea”, a slogan used by pro-Palestinian protesters to call for the obliteration of the state of Israel.
Mr Sunak will demand to know why the police didn’t act against marches waving swastikas and dressing up to look like Hamas terrorists.
One woman was allowed to march through central London with a placard bearing the Star of David intertwined with a swastika.
Another man was filmed shouting “Hitler knew how to deal with these people”.
A Met Police source told the Times that the police are “not unaware of the impact of the pro-Palestinian march, but there was a lot of risk of harm elsewhere… There would have been hundreds more officers who could have potentially intervened if they had not been drawn away”.
They said: “There was no trespass of the Cenotaph, no one got near it.”
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