Board President says Public Order Act and police failing to “control the stirring up of racial hatred” at weekly anti-Israel marches

Chuko Cribb on Unsplash " data-lg-size="-"> Police officer in riot gear. Photo by Chuko Cribb @ Unsplash
Photo by Chuko Cribb on Unsplash

This morning, the President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, led a delegation to meet Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, to discuss policing around the regular ‘anti-Israel’ marches. Marie was joined by Mark Gardner, Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust, Lord John Mann, the Government’s Advisor on Antisemitism, and Russell Langer, Director of Public Affairs at The Jewish Leadership Council.

The meeting was forthright, but constructive. Among the topics discussed was the urgent need for more exacting policing, with enhanced guidance for police commanders present. In particular, our President emphasised that there could be absolutely no ‘context’ in which the use of swastikas at such gatherings was acceptable. In response to citations of the Public Order Act of 1986, which covers marches and static demonstrations, the President made it clear that she feels that close to four decades on, it is time for a parliamentary review into this Act, something she will be raising in conversations with Government Ministers.

Marie said:

“Almost 40 years on, it is time for a comprehensive review of the Public Order Act, to allow it to reflect the realities of the 21st century. The Act currently allows for major restrictions on single marches specifically if it is determined that it will cause a serious public disorder; it was not designed to consider a concentrated campaign intended to bring central London to a standstill on weekends with repeated marches for months on end. The Act was also meant, among other things, to ‘control the stirring up of racial hatred’, but it is clearly failing to do this in 2024. This is a matter I shall be speaking to Ministers about in the coming period.”

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