EDL March

Meeting: 
PCC on 2012-10-25
Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Reference: 
2012/0054
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Question

The question, if I can start to the Deputy Commissioner, it is regarding the English Defence League (EDL) march planned for 27 October 2012, this Saturday coming, and its impact on the borough. It is planning to march in Waltham Forest, a borough I represent, its impact on Islington, the neighbouring borough, I also represent, but the other boroughs affected are Tower Hamlets and Newham. I wonder if the Deputy can just give us an update, knowing that the Metropolitan Police Service has now joined others, I have to say, from my point of view, a bit late in the day, because the EDL should never have been allowed to march on 1 September 2012 when they were stopped because over 3,000 of us, as anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigners, stopped them in their tracks. Welcome that the MPS is onboard now and has asked the Home Secretary to prohibit the marches. Can he tell us, does he have any update for us? If not, tomorrow is Friday and the march is Saturday. When will she make up her mind?

Supplementary Questions: 

Answer

Answer for EDL March

Answer for EDL March

Answered By: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I know the issue went over. I came straight here this morning. I have not had an update from Scotlant Yard yet. It is with the Home Secretary and officials in relation to an authority being sought by us to ban processions in Newham, Islington, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets for 30 days from 27 October. I would imagine we will have an answer either this afternoon or tomorrow at the latest, if it is not already in, but I emphasise that I have not checked.

Jennette Arnold (AM): Can I just go on to say that, because of the lateness of the MPS getting on board, it means there will be static gatherings. I have just looked up and the EDL site is saying, even if they are banned, they will be holding a static protest in Walthamstow on Saturday. The response - and I am not going to apologise for this, because I am a member of both the organisations - from both the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and We Are Waltham Forest is that, if that is the case, then they are also going to hold a static protest in Waltham Forest.

The lateness of the MPS coming on board will mean that you then have to deploy police staff because there will be something going on. We are talking about thousands gathering in Walthamstow in a community that has done nothing to anyone except been targeted by fascist and racist thugs. Why were you so late in getting on board?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I refute the late getting on. We can only work, around bans, with what we have in the law, and with the intelligence and information we have in relation to it. You are absolutely right to raise the issue about people arriving and static. There is an operation that will run this weekend, a major policing operation. It would always have to run. The banning order will stop processions. Those are always the challenges with these pieces of legislation. We can go for it when we have the evidence and intelligence to be able to support the application to the Home Secretary.

Jennette Arnold (AM): You can tell me that it is operational matters, but I am forced to say to you the behaviour of the EDL, and fascist and racist organisations like this, does not change overnight. Their mission is to go into communities, cause disharmony, and, if they can, do damage and attack members of minority communities, the gay community, whoever they see as being different to them.

And so, I do have to say to you again or shall I put it this way: are you saying that in the last five days you received information that meant that their march coming this Saturday would be different to the march that they had on the first?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I think you may be aware, and it is certainly in the public domain, that we made a number of arrests last weekend around this organisation.

Jennette Arnold (AM): Yes.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): As you would expect with anything, we constantly then evaluate what may or may not take place.

Jennette Arnold (AM): You are saying that the information you gathered that got you on board was new intelligence about this organisation.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I am saying we constantly review the intelligence and information about particular events.

Jennette Arnold (AM): If I just finish with this question, I just have to say I have been asked time and time again and most recently, how is it possible for the police to ban cyclists who do not go out and racially abuse, and damage, or cause social disharmony? Yet the police in London find it so difficult and - it is usually in their experience and mine - late to the point of requesting the ban against the EDL.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): The reality around these banning orders is that they are a decision for the Home Secretary at the end of the day.

Jennette Arnold (AM): You have to apply.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Absolutely, we have to apply to the Home Secretary in relation to seeking one of those banning orders. You would expect with an event like a march or a procession, whoever it is, that actually the picture around them changes the closer you get to an event. I absolutely understand the frustration around this particular event and some of the sensitivities around it, but we can only work with what we have.

Jennette Arnold (AM): Well, I can only say and declare now that I shall be at the front of this counter-march or static demonstration, because we will not tolerate fascists and racists like the EDL on the streets of Waltham Forest, Islington, or anywhere I believe in London. I just have to say it seems to me it is going to be a big one on Saturday. It will be a big gathering on Saturday.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): There is a major Metropolitan Police operation for Saturday and we will be able to cope with whatever comes up.