The Campaign Against Antisemitism has sent a letter to the Home Secretary to request that she use her powers under s.40 of the Police Act 1996 to ensure that this weekend’s anti-Israel protests are banned, given that they are likely to feature genocidal chanting, calls for violence and antisemitic banners, as in previous demonstrations over the past month.
The Home Secretary has been enormously supportive of the Jewish community during this very difficult period. The Metropolitan Police Service has failed to impose and enforce meaningful conditions on the marches, reducing itself instead pathetic pleas to the organisers of the protest to desist from this weekend’s march. The impact of these failures on British Jewry has been significant.
We continue to call on the Metropolitan Police Service to impose a ban on the protest under s.13 of the Public Order Act 1986, and on the Mayor of London to step up, and are requesting that the Home Secretary use her discretionary powers to direct the Mayor of London to remedy the police’s failures, and for the army to be called in to reinforce the police if necessary.
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The letter comes after Campaign Against Antisemitism organised an open letter signed by leading lawyers, including 15 King’s Counsel, urging the Met to impose restrictions on the weekly marches through London, and as 20,000 Londoners signed a petition organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism with a similar call.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said, “On Armistice Day, we honour our military heroes who fought and died to defend our freedom to live in peace and security and without fear, and against antisemitic hatred.
“It would be a disgrace to their legacy if the streets of London once again become a no-go zone for Jews because they are overrun with antisemites and terrorist sympathisers.
“If the Met is unable or unwilling to protect our freedoms and values this Remembrance Day weekend, we call on the Home Secretary to issue section 40 directives to force the Met into action, and call in the army to do what their predecessors did and uphold the values that our country stands for.”
The letter in full:
Dear Home Secretary,
I am writing to strongly urge you to exercise your discretionary power to make a direction under section 40 of the Police Act 1996 (“the 1996 Act”) to the Mayor of London, in the exercise of the Mayor’s role as occupant of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”), responsible for maintaining the Metropolitan Police Service (“MPS”) and ensuring that it is efficient and effective.
Sections 40(1) and (2) of the 1996 Act permit you, where you are satisfied that the whole or any part of a police force (such as the MPS) is failing or will fail to discharge any of its functions in an effective manner, whether generally or in particular respects, to direct the Mayor, as the relevant local policing body under the 2011 Act, to take specified measures for the purpose of remedying the failure or to prevent such a failure occurring.
A key function of the MPS is to maintain public safety and order in London. As we have written to both the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Mayor of London to point out, in the last month (since the Hamas atrocity in Israel on 7th October 2023) the MPS has been very clearly failing to discharge this function effectively (see our enclosed open letter to the MPS dated 3rd November and signed by over 15 King’s Counsel, including Sir Michael Burton KC GBE, Lord Pannick KC and Lord Grabiner KC, and letter to the Mayor of London of today’s date). We have also made clear in our correspondence the steps that the MPS could take in order to remedy this failure. Neither the Commissioner nor the Mayor have taken any of the suggested measures.
It is therefore now incumbent upon you, as Home Secretary, particularly in light of the planned march on Armistice Day, Saturday 11th November 2023 organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, and Friends of Al-Aqsa, among others, to use your powers under section 40 to ensure that the continuing failures of the MPS are finally resolved.
When so directing the Mayor, we respectfully suggest that you make clear that, if it is the case that the MPS does not have the capability to properly police the weekly protests taking place in London (including the march scheduled on Armistice Day), and if the Mayor and the MPS have exhausted all other options, the Home Office will proceed to make a request for military assistance under the policy of military aid to the civil authorities, (“MACA”).
We consider that the current situation has clearly met the necessary grounds for a MACA request of a “definite need to act”. Another option open to the MPS in these circumstances is provided by section 13(4) of the Public Order Act 1986.
Section 13(4) provides that any class of public processions so specified can be prohibited by the Commissioner of the MPS (with the consent of the Home Secretary) in his police area or part of it for a period not exceeding 3 months where it is reasonably believed that, because of particular circumstances in the area or part, the powers under section 12 (to impose limits on processions) will not be sufficient to prevent serious public disorder.