…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has defended the actions of the police force during the Coronation and stated that there would be more serious questions to answer if they had not taken action.
He acknowledged that no major operation is flawless and emphasized the force’s concerns about potential risks and intelligence information that justified their actions.
However, criticisms have arisen, particularly after the arrest and detention of a monarchist near protesters in central London.
Concerns and Reasoning Behind Police Action:
Sir Mark highlighted the rapidly developing intelligence that indicated the potential for disruptive activities during the Coronation.
This included the possibility of paint being thrown at the procession, damage to historic monuments, and the use of high sound devices that could panic horses.
He explained that the police had reasonable grounds to act based on the evidence available at the time and the potential risk to the event.
He emphasized that protest was not banned entirely, and many protesters were allowed along the route, including a significant number of “Not My King” supporters in Trafalgar Square.
Arrests and Investigation Process:
Out of the 62 arrests made during the Coronation celebrations, 53 suspects have been bailed, and the investigations are expected to be lengthy.
The Commissioner acknowledged that witness statements, officer accounts, and the need to secure evidence contributed to delays in the release of suspects.
He assured that the officers’ actions were supported in the unique and fast-moving operational context of the event.
Response to Criticisms:
London Mayor Sadiq Khan requested urgent information regarding the arrest of six anti-monarchy protesters, including Republic chief executive Graham Smith, under the new Public Order Act.
Sir Mark expressed his support for the officers’ actions, highlighting the importance of equipping officers with powers to address serious disruptions.
The Commissioner also addressed the arrest of volunteers from Westminster City Council’s charity Night Star, stating that their deployment had not been brought to the police’s attention during partnership meetings.
Continuing Improvements and Learning:
While acknowledging the need for debriefing and learning from any major operation, Sir Mark stated that he did not see this as an occasion to call out shortcomings.
However, he emphasized that no major operation is perfect, and the force will always seek to learn and improve.
The Commissioner assured that an operational review would be conducted following the Coronation, and any lessons learned would be reflected in future planning.
Analysis and Commentaries:
The public letter from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner serves as a defense of the force’s actions during the Coronation, addressing concerns and justifying their responses based on the available intelligence.
The Commissioner’s emphasis on the potential risks and the unique operational context provides insights into the decision-making process.
However, criticisms have been raised regarding the arrest and detention of individuals, raising questions about the balance between maintaining order and protecting civil liberties.
The Commissioner’s commitment to learning and improvement reflects a recognition of the importance of accountability and ongoing refinement of policing strategies.
The operational review and future planning demonstrate the force’s commitment to incorporating lessons from this event to enhance their approach in the future.