London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Police made tough calls on Coronation arrests, says minister

Police made tough calls on Coronation arrests, says minister

The police had to make "tough choices" while handling protests during the Coronation, a minister has said, following criticism over arrests.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer told BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg the police were right to factor in the scale and global-nature of the event.

MPs, human rights groups and a former chief constable have criticised the police's tactics.

Police said on Sunday that 64 people were arrested during the Coronation.

The Metropolitan Police had previously said 52 arrests were made on Saturday. In its latest update, it said four people had been charged, while another person arrested remains in custody for non-payment of fines.

Fifty-seven people have been released on bail while two others will face no further police action.

Among those held on Saturday was the head of the anti-monarchy group Republic, Graham Smith. He was released after 16 hours in custody and said there was "no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK".

Other concerns have been raised over reports three volunteers with a Westminster-based women's safety programme had been arrested while handing out rape alarms.

The Met said it received intelligence protesters were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt coronation proceedings.

Ms Frazer said the right to protest was "really important" and people should be heard but there had been a recent change in protesters' tactics.

Protesters have been stopping people going about their day-to-day lives, she said, and there was a need to redress that balance.

Officers would have made operational decisions on a case-by-case basis, she said, taking into account the scale of the Coronation celebrations.

"We were on the global stage, there were 200 foreign dignitaries in the UK, in London at an event, millions of people watching and hundreds of thousands of people at the scene," she added.

Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the BBC he was reassured the Met were aware of a gap in public confidence over policing and the force was "explaining and justifying" why they made some of the arrests.

He said Labour would "wait and see" whether the force got the balance right, adding "accountability" over policing decisions was important.

Mr Streeting said if they did not get it right, it was important to "hold your hands up".

The King and Queen went past some protesters on their way to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation ceremony

Metropolitan Police Commander Karen Findlay defended her officers' response, saying they had a duty to intervene "when protest becomes criminal and may cause serious disruption".

She added the Coronation was a "once-in-a-generation event" which was a key consideration in their assessment.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the rain in central London on Saturday, with chants including "down with the Crown", "don't talk to the police" and "get a real job".

But Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said some of the arrests "raise questions" over the Met's actions, adding he has "sought urgent clarity" whilst investigations are ongoing.

Other protests were organised in Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh. No arrests were reported outside London.

While campaigners insisted their protests were peaceful, the police said they had intelligence that groups were "determined to disrupt" the occasion.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey said he was not sure about the exact circumstances of the arrest, and called for more detail from the police.

Speaking to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, he criticised the government for "passing legislation to clamp down on protest that breached British traditions of civil liberties".

Several Labour MPs have also been critical of the Met's response. Senior backbencher Sir Chris Bryant said on Twitter that "freedom of speech is the silver thread that runs through a parliamentary constitutional monarchy".

In a statement on Sunday, Republic chief Mr Smith said the arrests had "destroyed whatever trust might have existed between peaceful protesters and the Metropolitan police".

"What is the point in being open and candid with the police, working with their liaison officers and meeting senior commanders, if all their promises and undertakings turn out to be a lie?"

Mr Smith was arrested early on Saturday - before the Coronation began - at a protest in Trafalgar Square.

The Met said it had confiscated "lock-on devices" which protesters can use to secure themselves to things like railings.

It has now become illegal to prepare to lock-on following changes to the law passed this week.

But Matt Turnbull, another member of Republic who was arrested, said the straps were being used to hold the placards and had been "misconstrued" as lock-on devices.

A former police chief has said she is "very disappointed" by the arrest of protesters and strongly criticised the new powers.

Sue Sim, a former chief constable with Northumbria Police and a specialist in public order policing, said she was "very disappointed" by the arrest of protesters and called the new powers "draconian".

"I think when you're talking about terrorism, where people's lives are at risk that's a very different thing. But where you are talking about peaceful protest the whole thing for me is, what type of society do we want? We do not want a totalitarian police state," she told BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend.

Concerns about the police's approach were also raised by Westminster City Council over reports that volunteers with its Night Star women's safety programme had been detained and questioned after being stopped by officers while handing out rape alarms.

Councillor Aicha Less said the authority was working with the Met to establish what happened and was in touch with volunteers to make sure they were being supported.

The Met said it had received intelligence about plans to use rape alarms to disrupt the Coronation procession by scaring military horses, causing "significant risk to the safety of the public and the riders".

The force said three people were arrested in the Soho area of London over suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.

One man was also further arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods. All three have since been released.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said the force were "aware of and understand there is public concern over these arrests" and added the matter was still under investigation.


Related Articles

London Daily
Congo Army Thwarts Attempted Coup Involving Americans and a British Citizen
Ireland's Homeless Gain Voting Rights
Blinken orders crackdown on Israel-Hamas leaks
Julian Assange Faces US Extradition: Key Facts
Jacob Zuma Takes Campaign to ANC Stronghold Soweto
Attempted Assassination of Slovakia PM Robert Fico: Investigation Ongoing
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
Spain Recalls Ambassador After Argentina President's Remarks
Rishi Sunak Faces Cabinet Backlash Over Proposed Changes to Foreign Student Visas
Rwanda Denies Entry to Human Rights Researcher
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Killed in Helicopter Crash
Blue Origin Resumes Space Tourism with 90-Year-Old Ed Dwight
Rishi Sunak and Wife Akshata Murty Wealthier Than King Charles
New Dutch Government Drives Wedge Through EU Liberals
Iranian President Raisi Missing After Helicopter Goes Down
Freemasons and ‘Global War Party’ Accused of Conspiring Against Georgia
Poland Supports Rolls-Royce's Nuclear Power Plant Initiative
European Ports Overflow with Unsold Electric Vehicles
Esprit Files for Bankruptcy in Europe, Putting Hundreds of Jobs at Risk
Chevron Halts North Sea Drilling Amid Rising Tax Burden
Jeremy Hunt Accused of Exaggerating Conservatives' Economic Record
Victoria Atkins Discusses Historical Gender Bias in the NHS
Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 50th Anniversary: Calls for Justice
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty’s Wealth Rises to £651 Million
New Caledonia Riots Escalate After French Voting Rights Change
Renters Face Fierce Competition as Listing Times Shrink
Surge in Fake Science: 19 journals shut down due to fraudulent papers from 'paper mills'
Global Birthrates Decline, Raising Economic and Social Concerns
Boeing Faces Possible Prosecution Over 737 MAX Settlement Violation
Prisoner Escapes in France as Two Officers Killed in Van Ambush
German Court Rules AfD Can Be Monitored for Extremism
Jacob Rees-Mogg Criticizes Bank of England’s Inflation Strategy
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Promote Invictus Games in Nigeria
UK Arms Ban on Israel Would Aid Hamas, Says Cameron
US Regulators Probe Credit Card Reward Schemes
Labour Vows to End Rwanda Deportation Scheme/Scam
Exonerated Andrew Malkinson Faces Hardship Awaiting Compensation
India Poised to Surpass Japan as 4th Largest Economy
UN General Assembly Approves Palestinian Membership Bid
Biden to Impose Tariffs on Chinese Electric Vehicles
Cyberattack Disrupts Major US Healthcare Network
McDonald's Introduces $5 Meal Deal to Attract Customers
Protesters Attempt to Storm Tesla's German Factory
The United Kingdom reports it has emerged from recession
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction