Met Police hit back: 'Parliament need to re-draw lines' as war of words intensifies with Suella Braverman

Sir Mark Rowley and pro-Palestinian protest in London

Met Police hits back: 'Parliament need to re-draw lines' as war of words intensifies with Suella Braverman

GB News/PA
Tom Fredericks

By Tom Fredericks

Published: 23/10/2023

- 14:40

Updated: 23/10/2023

- 15:44

During the pro-Palestinian rally last weekend, a crowd of protesters were heard chanting “jihad”

Britain's most senior police officer says his force is "ruthless in tackling anyone who puts their foot over the legal line" during protests over the Israel-Hamas war but says those laws should be toughened up.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley's comments follow a meeting with the Home Secretary.

Suella Braverman has criticised officers for not arresting pro-Palestine protesters calling for "jihad" against Israel.

Following weekend protests, a spokesperson for the Home Secretary said: "There can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence on Britain’s streets.

WATCH HERE: Mark Rowley declares Police will be 'RUTHLESS' in protecting London

"The police are urged to crack down on anyone breaking the law."

Speaking outside the Home Office after what he called a "constructive meeting", Sir Mark said police enforce the law and not taste and decency but he suggested that laws around extremism and hate crime should be redrawn.

"It’s our job to enforce that line.

"It’s Parliament’s job to draw that line. And the thought that maybe events at the moment … maybe some of the lines aren’t quite in the right place."

Suella Braverman

Braverman told Sir Mark Rowley 'there can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence' on UK streets


Sir Mark went on: "The law that we’ve designed around hate crime and terrorism over recent decades hasn’t taken full account of the ability in extremist groups to steer around those laws and propagating the truly toxic messages through social media. Those lines probably need re-drawing."

Meanwhile, Downing Street has indicated there are no plans to give police more powers to address chants deemed to be extremist.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: "Some of these scenes will have likely been incredibly distressing for people to witness, not least to the UK’s Jewish community who deserve to feel safe at what must be an incredibly traumatic time.

"We do believe the police have extensive powers in this space and we will continue to discuss with them so there is clarity and agreement about how they can be deployed on the ground."

Pro-Palestine rally in London

Pressed if there are then no plans to give police more powers, Sir Mark said: 'I’m not aware of any, no'

Getty Images

Pressed if there are then no plans to give police more powers, he said: "I’m not aware of any, no."

As many as 150,000 protesters took to the streets over the weekend as some violent protesters demanding “the state of Israel must go”.

Over 100,000 flooded the streets of London while other rallies took place in Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast and Birmingham.

Police in the capital were stretched, with the size of the march taking many by surprise forcing the Met to maintain a large police presence around the Israeli embassy, with more than 20 police vans and dozens of officers in riot gear patrolling the streets.

At one point the protest, a speaker is filmed asking the assembled crowd: "What is the solution to liberate people in the concentration camp called Palestine?"

Several men in the crowd were then seen chanting "jihad, jihad, jihad".

Replying to the chanting, the Met said: "The word jihad has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism. We have specialist counter-terrorism officers here who have particular knowledge in this area.

"They have assessed this video, filmed at the Hizb ut-Tahrir protest in central London today, and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip.

"However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers have identified the man involved and will be speaking to him shorty to discourage any repeat of similar chanting."

A readout of the Jewish Community Crime, Policing, and Security Taskforce meeting at the Home Office today said: "The Home Secretary spoke with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley today as part of an extraordinary meeting of the Jewish Community Crime, Policing, and Security Taskforce, convened to discuss the exponential rise of antisemitic incidents since October 7th.

"Sir Mark and the Home Secretary discussed the policing response to incidents during demonstrations related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

"The Home Secretary recognised the complexities of the law in policing aspects of these protests and prosecutor decisions.

"The Home Secretary and all of Government supports the police as they continue to enforce the law against anyone suspected of committing an offence, and will ensure the police have everything they need to maintain law and order.

"There are currently more than 200 live police investigations over suspected offences, both as a result of protests and online incidents, linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict."

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