Policing of Marches and Demonstrations Debate

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Department: Home Office

Policing of Marches and Demonstrations

Baroness Deech Excerpts
Monday 13th November 2023

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the policing of recent marches and demonstrations.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) (Con)
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My Lords, the police are operationally independent: it is their decision how they choose to police a protest and they are accountable for that. The Metropolitan Police used a range of powers to minimise disruption and disorder. On Saturday police made 145 arrests, most of which were linked to the counterdemonstration; however, the police continue to investigate other offences. The police have the Government’s full backing to use all the powers at their disposal to ensure that the perpetrators face the full force of the law. As is right, the Government will continue to hold the police to account. I think it is also right to acknowledge that Remembrance Weekend events passed without disruption.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, freedom to speak and to march and police discretion are all pillars of our constitution, but I have never before in my lifetime seen mobs marching through the streets alongside some who call for violent jihad and the death of Jews and waving swastika signs. Once the Saturday march was under way, why were the police posing with a child dressed as a terrorist while protesters rampaged threateningly outside a synagogue? Many of us call on the police to apply the law to those who are guilty of offences under Section 5 of the Public Order Act aggravated by religious and racial hatred, public nuisance and glorifying terrorism. It is a worldwide problem. Anti-Semitism is on parade. Jews cannot fix it on their own; we need people with us. Does the Minister agree that we need a cry of solidarity?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I wholeheartedly agree, and I was very emphatic on that point at the Dispatch Box last week. We saw vile examples of anti-Semitism by a minority at the pro-Palestine march. The fears that our Jewish community has experienced over the weekend and the days leading up to it are shocking and disgusting, as I said last week. There is no place for hate on Britain’s streets, and the police have confirmed that investigations are ongoing.