Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, the police have reiterated to the public that social distancing regulations still remain in force. This comes after consecutive weekends of violent clashes with the police. Last weekend, police clashed with groups who had gathered in the capital resulting in the arrests of more than 100 people.
Six police officers were also injured following the violent clashes in central London.
Ahead of planned protests this weekend, Commander Alex Murray warned against demonstrations amid the virus pandemic while insisting arrests would be made if there is violence.
He said: “We remain in a health pandemic, and once again would encourage people to comply with the regulations of not gathering in groups larger than six people, this is to keep you, your family and friends safe.
“We value democracy and the right for people to have a voice, but would ask people to do so in another way, and not come to London to demonstrate.
London protests: Police issue warning
London protests: Police say any violence will not be tolerated
“It is our priority to keep our communities safe and for those who are coming, there will be a proportionate policing operation in place.
“We have been working hard with our community leaders and advisers as part of our preparation for Saturday.
“Whilst the vast majority of people who have attended demonstrations over the past few weeks were not violent, there have a small minority intent on violence against our officers and others, and this is completely unacceptable and we are working hard to bring offenders to justice.
“Officers will be making arrests if there is violence.
London protests: Crowds descended on central London over the last few weekends
“We would encourage those planning to attend, to use your influence and spread the message that criminal activity and violence will undermine the messages you are wanting people to hear and must be avoided.
“We have a post-investigation team who will gather all the available evidence and bring those identified to justice.”
The Met Police said that a variety of demonstrations were expected to take place in the capital this weekend.
Although the UK’s coronavirus alert level has been lowered from four to three, gatherings of more than six people from different households still remain banned.
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London protest: Police cordoned off some monuments
London protests: Several officers were injured
Police have confirmed they have made 230 arrests linked to protests over the last few weeks.
Amid the violence that has broken out in the capital, the Met Police has released a gallery of 35 images linked to an investigation into offences committed between June 3 to 13.
In order to bring an end to any violence, the Home Secretary has been urged to impose an emergency ban on all protests.
Any ban would need Priti Patel’s authorisation and could be imposed under the Public Order Act of 1986.
Under this, any mass assembly can be prohibited if there is serious disruption to community life or damage to important buildings or monuments.
The police had used this legislation during the Extinction Rebellion protests in the capital last October.
The High Court later termed the use of the ban was unlawful.
A Home Office statement read: “Ministers have no powers to initiate a ban on marches – it is an operational matter for the police.
London protests: Some peacefully gathered around the monuments
“Local authorities, or in London the commissioner of the Met or City of London police, would need to apply to the Home Secretary for consent to do so. No such applications have yet been received.
“The Home Secretary has, along with other government ministers, made repeatedly clear in interviews, in Parliament, on social media and directly to the police, that these protests are illegal and put public health at risk.
“Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate.
“She continues to urge the public in the strongest terms not to attend protests or gatherings. They are illegal and are putting the public at risk.”