1,700 police officers on duty for pro-Palestine march in London

Protesters in Trafalgar Square at an earlier protest (James Manning/PA Wire)
Protesters in Trafalgar Square at an earlier protest (James Manning/PA Wire)

The Met will deploy 1,700 officers on the streets of the capital on for the first major Pro-Palestine rally in the capital this year.

The weekend of action in the capital starts on Saturday at 12pm with a Palestine Solidarity Campaign leaving from Bank junction in the City of London heading via Fleet Street and Victoria Embankment to Parliament Square where speeches will take place.

On Sunday there will be a mass rally in support of Israel taking place in Trafalgar Square from 2.30pm. Police have also promised a "substantial police presence" then.

A police statement said: "Londoners will see a significant policing presence this weekend for what is expected to be the first major protest activity of 2024.

"Officers are there to ensure the events take place safely and peacefully, that disruption to other members of the public is kept to a minimum and that any offences are seen and dealt with.

"The majority of protests and other events held in recent months have taken place without any notable disorder, with most people attending to express their views in a lawful and peaceful way.

"Regrettably not everyone has acted responsibly and we have seen multiple arrests at a number of protests."

The Met has pledged to crack down on placards and chanting which could amount to a racially aggravated crime or even be an offence under the Terrorism act. The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has launched around 30 investigations into suspected offending at protests since 7 October, the majority of which relate to potential terror offences.

A man who wore a headband to a protest on 25 November was charged with wearing an item of clothing or wearing, carrying or displaying an article that arouses suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

Where officers see people engaging in activity that suggests support or membership of a proscribed organisation, such as Hamas, they have pledged action.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who will lead the policing operation this weekend, said: “We absolutely recognise the passion and strength of feeling sparked by the ongoing conflict and we respect the right of those who wish to protest and have their voices heard to do so.

“We police without fear or favour and where our policing approach differs it is a response to the intelligence and the nature of the event, not those taking part or the cause they represent. Officers are present primarily to ensure the safety of those involved, but where we see offences taking place, or where we are made aware of them either online or by other means, we will not hesitate to act.

“These protests and the offences connected to them have been widely reported on in the media and have been the subject of extensive discussions online. It is really disappointing that despite this, we have continued to see people turning up carrying placards, wearing clothing or chanting slogans that, certainly by this stage, they should know will cause alarm or distress to others."