Mayor Biggs today met with senior Metropolitan Police commanders to discuss local policing issues, including demands that they better manage any further provocations from racist groups in Tower Hamlets. Since the appearance of Britain First outside East London Mosque on Saturday, Mayor Biggs has led the urgent response of the council, police, and other community safety partners, deploying council officers and resources to support East London Mosque and ensure local people are protected.
Mayor Biggs today met personally with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons and new Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Sue Williams, and urged them to examine all options for preventing future events by Britain First and similar racist and Islamophobic groups who are seeking to provoke Muslim residents. The Mayor is demanding the police to investigate using legal powers to block further appearances by Britain First, and act quickly to break up future unannounced events.
Mayor John Biggs said: “I have today met with senior police commanders and urged them to consider all actions to prevent violence coming to our streets. Clearly this must include consideration of bans and injunctions. Since the appearance of Britain First on Saturday I have overseen the response of the council and partners, and unreservedly condemned these provocative acts, which are dressed up as a ‘passive protest’ but are clearly designed to provoke a reaction, obstructing local people from going about their lawful and proper business and increasing the risk of violence.”
“I stand in solidarity with all residents of Tower Hamlets, and particularly our Muslim community, who feel threatened by these events. As Mayor I am working with all of our different partners and services to address this threat properly and I have instructed our Chief Executive to determine what other actions are needed. I am liaising with our Inter-Faith Network, and with opposition leaders, to see what other acts of solidarity and community leadership we can deploy to reassure and to give the unequivocal message that Britain First are not welcome in any corner of our borough. We must be vigilant, and we must maintain the higher ground, away from the gutter of provocation where these groups belong.”
Partnership actions to date:
- Mayor Biggs attended the East London Mosque, London Muslim Centre, and Altab Ali Park on Saturday afternoon, immediately after receiving notification of the situation. Tower Hamlets Council officers were engaged in order to monitor the situation, and provide some reassurance, particularly to young people. Council officers were involved in overseeing this, and the Chief Executive was informed.
- Mayor Biggs made a further visit to the London Muslim Centre on Sunday evening, meeting trustees and others, with Deputy Mayors Cllr Sirajul Islam and Cllr Shiria Khatun, Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed, Cllr Ayas Miah and the Speaker Cllr Abdul Mukit. A number of actions were agreed.
- A Tension Monitoring Group meeting was organised by Cabinet member for Community Safety Cllr Shiria Khatun on Monday 14th March, attended by both officers and Deputy Mayor Cllr Sirajul Islam. Actions were agreed and have been circulated to partners, members, and opposition groups. Mayor Biggs has also instructed Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets, to assess what further actions the council can reasonably take
- Mayor Biggs has today met senior police commanders Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons and our new Borough Commander Sue Williams to discuss these matters urgently, and to urge that all options to prevent future provocations are examined, including the use of legal powers. Sue Williams will start in post in early April and the interim oversight of this was discussed.
- The Acting Borough Commander Phil Langworthy will today hold a ‘Gold group’ meeting, including police legal advisers, to discuss:
a) Police powers to ban or prevent such gatherings on the borough
b) the possible use of police powers for a dispersal zone in the area
c) the potential for similar events to happen again and the police response
- The Metropolitan Police will also:
i. refresh the police protocol that was successful when dealing with previous EDL provocations and ensure that all officers are aware of how to deal with such events,
ii. ensure that police officers respond promptly to incidents similar to Saturday outside the Mosque,
iii. ensure that officers are aware of the sensitivities of moving such groups into Altab Ali Park.
- Mayor Biggs has also contacted Reverend Alan Green of the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum to discuss organising public statements and acts of solidarity including an event on Friday.
- The police and council will ensure that there are local patrols in the area on the run up to and during next Saturday.