Police lock down Cenotaph as 2,000 officers to be on duty on Armistice Day weekend

Cenotaph in London

Police lock down Cenotaph ahead of Armistice Day protests

Met Police
Tom Fredericks

By Tom Fredericks

Published: 10/11/2023

- 15:48

Updated: 10/11/2023

- 18:25

Met Chiefs say that anyone 'believed to be part of, or associated with, the pro-Palestinian demonstration trying to assemble in this area can be arrested'

Two thousand officers from the Met and other UK forces will be on duty across central London for the whole Remembrance weekend as part of a major policing operation.

It comes as pro-Palestinian protesters hold demonstrations at the same time as Armistice and Remembrance events are taking place.

The Met says it's using special powers to "protect key Remembrance events and locations".

Protesters taking part in the march on Saturday will be banned from the area around the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

WATCH HERE: Nigel Farage fumes over Cenotaph and statues defaced

Met Chiefs say that anyone "believed to be part of, or associated with, the pro-Palestinian demonstration trying to assemble in this area can be arrested."

A source close to the Home Secretary said: “The Home Secretary and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police met this afternoon to discuss the policing of demonstrations to be held tomorrow, on Armistice Day.

“The Commissioner outlined plans to continue working to maintain public order, ensure compliance with the law and maintain the safety of participants, police officers and the general public.

“The Home Secretary emphasised her full backing for the police in what will be a complex and challenging situation and expressed confidence that any criminality will be dealt with robustly.”

The Cenotaph will also be protected by a round-the-clock police guard.

Officers are warning that they will crack down hard on those who break away from the protests in order to cause disruption including those who drive through Jewish communities waving flags and shouting anti-Semitic abuse.

They're also taking a zero-tolerance approach to intimidation of poppy-sellers.

The Met said: "This week concerns have been raised about the safety of poppy sellers at stations and other busy venues.


Pro-Palestinian protesters clash with police ahead of Armistice Day

Pro-Palestinian protesters clash with police ahead of Armistice Day


"Alongside our colleagues at the British Transport Police, we have been clear no intimidation of those who so generously give up their time for this treasured national cause will be tolerated."

The tough police action comes after critics accused the Home Secretary of raising tensions around the march planned for Saturday – Armistice Day – by pro-Palestinian groups, and the risk of counter-protests, particularly around the Cenotaph.

In a newspaper article, Suella Braverman accused police of "double standards" and "playing favourites" with protesters.

The Home Secretary said aggressive right-wing protesters are met with a hard response by officers while "pro-Palestinian mobs" are "largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law".

The Home Secretary claimed that "pro-Palestinian mobs" are "largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law".

Mounted police in front of Cenotaph

Mounted police in front of Cenotaph

Getty Images

It came after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had called in Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley for an emergency meeting about the march planned in London, saying he would hold the Scotland Yard boss "accountable" if there was trouble.

Braverman’s article is her latest high-profile intervention, with ministers in recent days seeking to distance themselves from some of her comments.

She has described the protests as "hate marches" and also claimed some people were homeless as a "lifestyle choice".

The Met had urged march organisers to "urgently reconsider" the event on Saturday because of a growing risk of violence, but the pro-Palestinian coalition behind it have refused to call it off.

In an indication of the challenges faced by police, the Met said that since the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, there have been 188 arrests involving hate crimes or linked to protests in London.

Commander Paul Trevers said: "This is a challenging time for communities in London.

"We continue to see a very concerning rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime. This is absolutely unacceptable."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who's in charge of this weekend's policing operation across the capital said: "This weekend is going to be a challenging weekend in London.

"We are expecting over 100,000 people to join the pro-Palestinian protest. A counter-protest will be allowed to take place near the Cenotaph.

"Our action is designed so that both protests do not come together. The decisions we make are not influenced by politics.

"We will use appropriate force. The operational independence of policing is very important.

"We will use all available powers to make sure that Remembrance isn't disrupted. We will intervene swiftly where offences are identified. We will take decisive action including intervening if protesters shout 'jihad jihad'.

"The objective of policing is to use least intrusive measures necessary.

"We will employ robust, rapid and agile action.

"We continue to see a significant impact on communities in London following the Hamas attacks on Israel and situation in Gaza. We've seen increased levels of hate crimes.

"There have been significant numbers of protests, vigils and gatherings. This weekend will be largest of them all to date."

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