Braverman’s comments on police bias unacceptable, says Police Federation

It is unacceptable for Home Secretary Suella Braverman “to publicly attempt to tamper with the operational independence of policing”, the Police Federation has said.

Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, said operational policing decisions must remain independent of political interference.

His comments come after Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley resisted pressure from senior Tories to ban a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Saturday, prompting Home Secretary Suella Braverman to write an article for The Times which made allegations of police bias over the protests.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected take to the streets of London for the march, which coincides with Armistice Day.

In a statement, Mr Hartshorn said that “policing must be free of politics”.

“It is entirely reasonable that the Home Secretary might raise concerns with senior police leaders in private, it is unacceptable to publicly attempt to tamper with the operational independence of policing,” he said.

“Policing must be free of politics. Operational independence is a key pillar of UK policing and must be respected.

“Policing does not comment on political manoeuvrings, and we expect to be able to carry out our duties without political interference.”

The officer in charge of policing London during Saturday’s protest told the PA news agency that the force has been “clear” on how it polices protests.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor in the Metropolitan Police control centre
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor in the Metropolitan Police control centre (Victoria Jones/PA)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “Our job is to ensure that we police without fear or favour, that we balance the rights of everybody, be that protesters, counter protesters, or people living or coming into London.

“And our job this weekend is to ensure that people are kept safe and that is what my focus is on.”

More than 100 arrests for offences including supporting proscribed organisations and serious hate crime have been made over the last four major Palestinian protests, according to the Met Police.

Mr Taylor said that it will be a “very difficult weekend for policing”.

“We have got a significant march taking place,” he said.

“We are aware there will be counter-protests, as well as a lot of people who would ordinarily come to London to mark their respect on Armistice Day, on Remembrance Sunday.

“That means we need a large and robust policing plan in place.”

The number of officers on duty in London will be double the usual amount, with 1,850 officers on Saturday and 1,375 on Sunday.