A significant policing operation has been put in place ahead of planned demonstrations in Central London today, Saturday 26 September.
A number of assemblies have been organised across London, with a large event planned in Trafalgar Square, which will then move to Hyde Park.
Throughout the week, officers from the Metropolitan Police have been engaging with organisers, reminding them of their legal obligations when organising an event, and explaining that these events could be in breach of regulations designed to protect people from Coronavirus.
During today’s policing operation, officers will continue to talk to people across London, particularly at the demonstrations, using the ‘4 Es’ approach of engaging and explaining the regulations; encouraging people to following them, and only enforcing as a last resort. Officers will take enforcement action if crowds fail to comply with officers and risk the health of each other and indeed police officers. The Met will also not tolerate the level of violence and hostility that has recently been shown to police officers and other members of the public.
It is illegal for people to gather in groups of more than six, unless they are exempt. Protest is one of those exemptions, however organisers must submit a risk assessment and must comply with social distancing. Some organisers have submitted a risk assessment and have complied with requirement. Where the organisers have not submitted a risk assessment, then the Met will increase their engagement and encourage attendees to disperse. Enforcement remains a last resort, but will be undertaken if required.
Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation today, said: “Officers will, of course, continue to use the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to following the regulations. However, if people fail to comply, and continue to put themselves at risk, officers will take enforcement action.
“I know there is great frustration to these regulations, but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus. By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”
A number of highly trained public order officers will be on duty throughout the day and will be supported by other specialist teams such as the Met’s Mounted Branch. Officers will be highly visible throughout central London and will respond swiftly to breaches of the Coronavirus regulations and scenes of violence.
Commander Adelekan added: “Last weekend it was highly disappointing to see that a small minority of demonstrators targeted officers with violence. Some 15 officers were injured during this protest, with more than 32 arrests being made during the course of the day. I will not tolerate a repeat of this behaviour this weekend and officers will respond quickly to any scenes of violence.”