Met Police vow ‘swift’ action as pro-Palestinian protests return to central London

People take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
People take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

Police are on standby as thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters are set to converge on central London this Saturday to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine said “swift and decisive action” will follow any criminal activity at the march which starts in Russell Square around midday and ends at Trafalgar Square.

The Crown actor Khalid Abdalla and comedian Alexei Sayle are expected to deliver speeches.

An extensive policing plan has been put in place across London over the Easter bank holiday weekend to ensure religious, sporting and protest events can take place safely, whilst causing minimal disruption to local communities.

On Good Friday, Metropolitan Police officers will be present at the Rolling Thunder military veterans’ motorcyclist protest past the Cenotaph in Whitehall, as well as policing a number of Championship football matches.

The historic Oxbridge Boat Race takes place on the Thames this Saturday, in addition to three Premier League games and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’s “Stop the Genocide” rally.

The PSC organised the protest following Hamas’s murderous October 7 attack on southern Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 kidnapped, before the Israelis retaliated with months of attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing and wounding thousands.

The Met revealed ahead of the 11th national march that costs of policing Gaza-related protests in London has reached over £32.2 million and required 35,000 officer shifts and more than 5,200 rest days to be cancelled.

Singer Charlotte Church at a previous pro-Palestine march (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
Singer Charlotte Church at a previous pro-Palestine march (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

Robin Simcox, the Government’s counter-extremism tsar, warned that London’s streets have become a “no-go zone for Jews” during pro-Palestine demonstrations and a “permissive environment for radicalisation” was developing.

DAC Valentine, overseeing policing across the capital, said: “We expect this weekend in London to be extremely busy, with families and communities celebrating Easter and other religious festivals, as well as a mix of major sporting events and various protests taking place.

“We have an extensive policing plan in place to ensure these can take place safely, but I also want to be clear that we will not tolerate anyone who is intent on causing criminality, disorder or anti-social behaviour at any of the events.

“We have maintained a good dialogue with event holders, including protest organisers who are aware of our expectations in terms how individuals and groups conduct themselves and how their stewards can help us.

“We continue to provide them with information about what kind of activity would constitute a criminal offence and have made it clear that we will take swift and decisive action where crimes occur.

“We also know that many people – particularly those from Jewish and Muslim communities – remain concerned about hate crime and are worried about their safety and we recognise the cumulative impact of frequent protests.

“Local officers continue to meet with community representatives and we will have presence at places of worship right across London through the weekend and beyond.

“While we have an extensive plan in place to police the various major events, we also have plenty of officers who will be on duty to provide a local policing presence across all of our boroughs.

“This is possible, in part, because we are once again being supported by colleagues from other forces across the UK and I’d like to thank all of the officers and staff who will be working this weekend to keep London safe.”

Ben Jamal, director of the PSC, said hundreds of thousands will again march on Saturday to demand global leaders to take action “to end Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

He added: “The clear duty of the UK government is to end its complicity in Israel’s genocide.

“An immediate first step, under its own export guidelines, as recognised by 135 MPs and peers, is to suspend export licenses for arms supplies to Israel.

“This must be followed by a resumption of funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Palestinian refugee agency that can prevent famine taking hold in Gaza.”