THE job of the police is to prevent crime, catch criminals and hand them over to be prosecuted. With the all-encompassing agenda of diversity and inclusion, it seems as though many among the upper echelons of the force have forgotten what real crime is and who the real criminals are. They are the murderers, rapists, vandals, thugs, arsonists, grooming gangs, thieves, fraudsters and burglars who cause harm, damage or loss to the rest of us. Despite this, there is now far more emphasis on the burgeoning concepts of ‘hate crime’ and ‘hate speech’ where you are likely to get a knock on the door if you have made a joke on social media that offends someone who unjustifiably reports you as homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic or any of the burgeoning number of new made-up phobias which come into existence on an almost monthly basis.
What is even more worrying is the recent open politicisation of the Metropolitan Police. This summer has seen more demonstrations and rallies on the streets of London than normal. Despite coronavirus restrictions, Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have been out in force on many occasions as well as citizens protesting against lockdown and patriots protesting about the lack of action when Winston Churchill’s statue was vandalised and the flag on the Cenotaph was burned.
The difference in the response of the Met and its leaders has been stark. BLM protests were originally supported by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said on June 6: ‘To the thousands of Londoners who protested peacefully today: I stand with you and I share your anger and your pain.’ Humiliating photographs of Metropolitan Police officers kneeling before BLM and Antifa thugs went around the world. Khan also described Extinction Rebellion as ‘allies’. XR protesters were allowed to block roads with impunity for days in February and on several occasions thereafter, with the Met taking a ‘softly, softly’ approach towards them.
In contrast, two entirely peaceful rallies in Trafalgar Square about the unnecessary lockdown measures which have devastated both businesses and civil liberties were attacked by the Metropolitan Police. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t been there. At the demonstration on September 19, columns of officers and then riot police attempted to storm the crowd and the stage and close down the event. They were held back by the weight of the crowd, but attacked again and again with increasing force. At least one citizen was seriously injured.
On Saturday, at the second rally, events were even more horrifying. The organisers had done a risk assessment and cleared the event with Westminster Council. They held a minute’s silence for police sergeant Matt Ratana who was killed in Croydon police station the day before. The crowd all joined in in a mark of respect. Yet at the start of a speech by the German doctor Heiko Schoening, without warning 250 riot police stormed into the crowd from both sides of Trafalgar Square, batons raised and pushing, shoving, hitting and injuring entirely peaceful citizens. A woman was pulled off her chair and punched to the ground. Another participant, Diane Roche, reports it thus:
‘Suddenly a member of the public started to warn everyone to get out of the corner and that police were massing and about to charge with batons. No one believed it (including me). How could the police do this? It was a ridiculous idea. We were peaceful and courteous to each other, en masse. I have never experienced such peace, unity and consideration. Most didn’t believe it even after being shown the images on the man’s mobile. We thought it was a trick, a way of stopping the event. Then, without warning, we were penned in and terrified. I was shaking. How could this be? What have we done? We managed to squeeze our way out and down the National Gallery steps and away to safety. It was terrifying. The crowd included young children and elderly with walking sticks.’
Schoening was arrested later at Speakers’ Corner by another squad of about 100 riot police and frogmarched into a police van. He was held for 22 hours in Wandsworth Police station without charge apparently for simply wanting to present his evidence that the effects of Covid-19 are no worse than a flu season.
These actions are chilling. Something has gone very wrong with the Metropolitan Police when it is focused more on policing thoughts than real crime, and when it gives free rein to Marxist organisations to break the law, but visits violence upon citizens rallying peacefully for the restoration of civil liberties which should never have been removed.
This is one of the reasons I am standing to be the Mayor of London. The Met is there not to injure innocent citizens at rallies who are doing nothing wrong and demonstrating peacefully and lawfully. It is there to come down hard on protesters at events who break the criminal law, who block roads for extended periods without permission, or on thugs – whatever their colour or creed, whatever movement they represent – who intimidate and harass others, incite violence or vandalise and deface our buildings and monuments. Everyone has the right to demonstrate peacefully, but not the right to destroy things and stop other people from going about their business.
This should be the focus, not banging on about diversity or trying to police thoughts and speech. And this will be best served by appointing the best person for the job – not by setting politically correct diversity targets and quotas which often lead to perverse outcomes where better candidates who are straight white men are sidelined in favour of recruiting or promoting candidates who are women, LGBT or BAME because of their characteristics rather than their talents and skills.
The Met has lost its way under bad, politicised leadership. This is not just a London issue; as the leading police force in the UK, it affects the whole country. For all our sakes, it needs to be set right.