The Met Police is gearing up for an extensive security operation in preparation for a pro-Palestinian demonstration set to take place in London.
The police force anticipates that this march, which coincides with Armistice Day, will be the largest one yet and has expressed concerns about potential clashes with far-right groups.
Pro-Palestinian protesters have been cautioned that they could face arrest if they approach the Cenotaph. Rishi Sunak, a prominent political figure, has reiterated his belief that the timing of the march is “disrespectful”.
He has urged the protesters to be considerate of the fear and distress that Jewish and Muslim communities may experience during this event.
Sunak also stated that he has received assurances from the police that they have taken all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Remembrance services.
On Friday, Sunak released a statement emphasizing the importance of respectful and peaceful protests.
He said, “It is because of those who fought for this country and for the freedom we cherish that those who wish to protest can do so, but they must do so respectfully and peacefully.
Remembrance weekend is sacred for us all and should be a moment of unity, of our shared British values, and of solemn reflection.”
The Met Police plans to deploy 1,850 public order officers on Saturday, with an additional 1,375 officers on Sunday.
This substantial security operation aims to reassure local communities. Officers have warned that the use of force is “likely” due to concerns surrounding counter-marches organized by far-right groups.
The Met Police expects this Saturday’s demonstration to be the largest since the weekly pro-Palestinian marches began in early October. They have also expressed concerns that the situation in the capital could be “challenging” and “tense”.
The organizers of the demonstration, which seeks a ceasefire in Gaza, estimate that around 500,000 people will march from Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall.
To ensure security, an exclusion zone will be established around the Cenotaph and a significant portion of Whitehall.
Pro-Palestinian protesters will effectively be prohibited from these areas, which goes beyond the usual security measures implemented around the key Remembrance site.
A dedicated 24-hour police presence has already been established around the Cenotaph and will remain until after Sunday’s ceremony.
Several protests planned for train stations, which were deemed disruptive and intimidating, have been banned. The Met Police anticipates a larger number of counter-protesters, including members from far-right groups, compared to previous weekends.
There are concerns about the potential for clashes between the two groups. Unlike pro-Palestinian protesters, counter-protesters will be allowed into Whitehall, but measures will be in place to keep the two groups separated.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the operation, expressed concerns about breakaway groups seeking confrontations. He informed reporters that it is “likely we will see police having to use force” to prevent serious disorder.
The Met Police reported that they have made 188 hate crime arrests since the attacks on Israel began on October 7, with the majority of these arrests related to suspected anti-Semitic offences.