AC Matt Twist statement on policing operation in central London
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist has issued a statement updating on the significant policing operation taking place in London today:
This operation took place in unique circumstances, against a backdrop of conflict in the Middle East, on Armistice Day and following a week of intense debate about protest and policing. These all combined to increase community tensions.
The extreme violence from the right wing protestors towards the police today was extraordinary and deeply concerning.
They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation.
Abuse was directed at officers protecting the Cenotaph, including chants of “you’re not English any more”.
This group were largely football hooligans from across the UK and spent most of the day attacking or threatening officers who were seeking to prevent them being able to confront the main march.
Many in these groups were stopped and searched and weapons including a knife, a baton and knuckleduster were found as well as class A drugs.
Thanks to the considerable efforts of our officers, who put themselves in harm’s way, nobody was able to reach the Cenotaph, which was protected at all times.
Nine officers were injured during the day, two requiring hospital treatment with a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip. Those officers were injured on Whitehall as they prevented a violent crowd getting to the Cenotaph while a remembrance service was taking place.
While the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) march did not see the sort of physical violence carried out by the right wing, we know that for London’s Jewish communities whose fears and concerns we absolutely recognise, the impact of hate crime and in particular anti-Semitic offences is just as significant.
At the end of the PSC march, we once again saw breakaway groups behaving in an intimidating manner.
Officers intercepted a group of 150 who were wearing face coverings and firing fireworks. Arrests were made after some of the fireworks struck officers in the face.
There were also a number of serious offences identified in relation to hate crime and possible support for proscribed organisations during the protest that we are actively investigating.
Locating and intercepting suspects in a crowd of the size we saw today will always be challenging, but we were further limited in our ability to do so due to the number of officers we had to deploy, from early in the day, in response to violence from the right wing groups in central London.
We will soon publish images of some of those we suspect have committed these offences and as we have shown in recent weeks, we will pursue all available lines of enquiry to identify suspects and take action even after the conclusion of protests.
As I write, there are many officers still deployed across central London responding to any outbreaks of disorder and ensuring key sites are protected ahead of tomorrow’s remembrance events.
Many more are working in custody suites dealing with the 126 people who have been arrested so far.
I am extremely proud of what our officers have achieved in challenging circumstances, including the many officers who came from across the country to help us keep London safe.