Saturday is a significant day for the nation, as His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh is laid to rest in Windsor. While this event is not in London, the Met has had a protective security operation in place in the vicinity of Westminster and Buckingham Palace throughout the week to keep people safe and to deter criminal activity. This highly visible policing operation will continue through the weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, the Met is aware that a number of people are set to gather in central London as part of a demonstration. Gathering for the purpose of protest can be permitted under the current regulations. However, a risk assessment must be completed which sets out how the gathering will be safe and minimise the risk of those taking part transmitting Covid-19.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, leading the operation, said: “Last Friday we were all deeply saddened to learn of the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
“Saturday will be a solemn day for the nation, as His Royal Highness’ funeral takes place in Windsor. We will continue to operate a bespoke policing plan in place around Buckingham Palace and Westminster, to keep people safe and to disrupt criminality.
“We will also be deploying a number of officers ahead of a demonstration in central London. I must stress that we remain in a public health crisis and gathering in large numbers presents a real risk of transmitting Covid-19.
“We have attempted to make contact with the organisers of Saturday’s demonstration, to explain the rules which they are required to follow in order to make their gathering lawful. It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations and ensure their gathering is safe. If they fail to comply with the regulations, in the best interests of public health, officers may be forced to take action to disperse crowds. We hope that officers are not placed in this position.
“While restrictions have recently eased, we need only look at what is happening now in some parts of Europe and our own recent experience to see how quickly things can change. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and we must all continue to do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus.”