Met police chiefs will be questioned at City Hall over the arrest of dozens of protesters during the King’s coronation.
The chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, Caroline Russell, says she found the arrests “worrying” because the rules seemed unclear for protesters “trying to do it by the book”.
The Green politician told the Today programme on Radio 4 she was particularly concerned over the arrest of Westminster City Council Night Star volunteers, who help people get home safely.
She said: “It seems absolutely extraordinary that those people who were volunteering — they were out there handing out flip flops to people who could no longer walk in their high heels because they’d had a bit too much to drink and handing out rape alarms.
“It just seems extraordinary that they got caught up in the Met’s safety net. How? It just feels very odd.”
Ken Marsh, head of the Metropolitan Police Federation representing officers, said the event was policed “impartially” and with “balance”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also demanded “clarity” from the force’s leaders on the arrests.
64 people arrested
Police said on Sunday that 64 people were arrested during the Coronation.
The Metropolitan Police had previously said 52 arrests were made on Saturday. In its latest update, it said four people had been charged, while another person arrested remains in custody for non-payment of fines.
Fifty-seven people have been released on bail while two others will face no further police action.
Among those held on Saturday was the head of the anti-monarchy group Republic, Graham Smith. He was released after 16 hours in custody and said there was “no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK”.
Other concerns have been raised over reports three volunteers with a Westminster-based women’s safety programme had been arrested while handing out rape alarms.
The Met said it received intelligence protesters were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt coronation proceedings.
Jim Cole, Chief Inspector responsible for the South East Territorial Support Group, shared on Twitter his reflections upon policing the Coronation in response to the criticisms of the Met.
“As I reflect upon the Coronation, I am incredibly proud of what the Met has achieved. I know the last 24 hours has seen controversy on Twitter about some of the arrests made,” Mr Cole said.
He went on telling how policing such an event is an incredibly complex operation: “The plan had to respond to the ever changing intelligence picture and balance the rights of those wishing to protest against the rights of those wishing to enjoy the Coronation as well as the national significance.”
“Despite what some on SM say, protest wasn’t banned”, he continued.
“There will be incredible scrutiny of police actions yesterday. If we got stuff wrong, then I am sure we will own that. However, I know personally, most of the Command Team involved, I was part of that team.
“I can say with absolute confidence that they make decisions in good faith based on what they have in front of them. They are not fascists or anti protest/free speech. They are honest, decent people who do a thankless task, they also volunteers. No one is forced to do it.
“Then there is the planning team who have worked for months on this. The military, the event company, the catering staff, the police staff building & organising the welfare centres & countless others not front & centre but still vital.
“Then there are the officers from across the Met & around the UK who came to make sure the event passed safely. They all worked long hours in the rain & in good humour.
“So when SM moves on, the events of yesterday will be debriefed, investigated & if we made mistakes, we will learn from them & improve. But I make no apologies & say again I am proud of the people I work with & what they have achieved.”
(Source: BBC and Twitter)