Met chief: Police did not “take lightly” ban on East End marches

A Scotland Yard chief has said the force did not “take lightly” the decision to impose a blanket ban on marches in the East End.

In a bid to ban the English Defence League’s planned rally in Tower Hamlets tomorrow, the Met secured a ban on all marches in the borough and four neighbouring ones for a period of 30 days from today.

Some groups, including Unite Against Fascism, have criticised the blanket ban but Ch Supt Julia Pendry defended the decision.

She said: “Following the appalling disorder in London in recent weeks, it’s important London, its communities and businesses, can return to normality.

“We have not sought this power since 1981 - which shows how we do not take this lightly.”

Last week’s request to home secretary Theresa May was the first time that the Met had asked for the powers to stop marches since the Brixton riots 30 years ago.

But under the law, groups can still hold static protests and the EDL have indicated they will still come to Tower Hamlets tomorrow.

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In response, the UAF is holding a counter protest.

The police said it is discussing suitable locations for the protests with both groups to “minimise disorder”.

Politicians in the East End are now calling for calm and urging people to stay away from the protests.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said last night: “With the EDL march now banned, I call on people not to support any initiatives designed to force confrontation by attempting to defy the ban on all marches. We are a united, peaceful borough, and this weekend is a great opportunity to show just that.”

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and John Biggs, Labour London Assembly member also called on people to stay away from the protests.

Tower Hamlets Police borough commander Paul Rickett made assurances that there will be a “substantial policing operation in place” to deal with any trouble.

The East London Advertiser was told earlier this week that 3,000 police officers will be deployed to the East End tomorrow with more on standby.