29 Apr 2011

Last-minute arrests and banning orders ease security fears

Channel 4 News correspondents say a planned protest against the Royal Wedding by anarchists appears to have been thwarted by a massive police presence in Central London.

Scotland Yard said they had made no arrests on Friday and had received no reports of serious disorder as 5,000 officers mounted the biggest security operation seen in central London for a generation

Police have made last-minute arrests of anti-monarchist protesters and got banning orders put on suspected anarchists in a bid to quash plans to disrupt the Royal Wedding.

Channel 4 News reporters said a massive police presence in Trafalgar Square appeared to have prevented a large-scale meeting of anarchist demonstrators arranged on social networking sites.

Scotland Yard said they had arrested 43 people from the million-strong crowd by Friday afternoon for offences including breach of the peace, handling stolen goods, assault and possessing an offensive weapon, thought to be a knife.

But there were no reports of large-scale disorder as 5,000 officers mounted the biggest security operation seen in Central London for a generation.

Police cordoned off a suspicious vehicle which had been abandoned at the junction of Grosvenor Gardens and Buckingham Palace Road, about half a mile from Westminster Abbey, “as a precautionary measure”.

And they used stop and search powers as about ten masked anarchists believed to be connected to the Right Royal Orgy group gathered in Soho Square.

Police were also in Red Lion Square, where 70 protesters said to be from the Republican Tea Party were counted. Witnesses said both scenes were calm and largely “good natured”.

The Met said last week they would take pre-emptive action against individuals or groups they believed were planning to break the law.

A spokesman confirmed that three people believed to be planning to behead effigies at the wedding were arrested in Brockley, South East London, on Thursday night.

Two men, aged 68 and 45, and a woman aged 60 are being held at a South London police station on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace.

A guillotine was reportedly seized during the incident and police confirmed the three were thought to have been planning to attend the wedding at Westminster Abbey.

Twenty suspected anarchists who were arrested on Thursday morning as part of a string of raids on squats across London have been ordered not to visit Westminster as part of their bail conditions.

Police had said that the arrests at a disused factory in Camberwell, South East London, a squat in Clapton, East London, and a market gardening project near Heathrow Airport were not directly connected to the Royal Wedding.

Known anarchist Charlie Veitch is being held by officers in Cambridgeshire after being arrested in connection with a planned rally in Soho Square.

He was arrested by Scotland Yard officers on Thursday night after posting on the internet that he was planning disruption. A Scotland Yard spokesman said he remained in custody on suspicion of “conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace”.

Officers have been given orders to deal “robustly, quickly and firmly” with any threats against the event.

Snipers on rooftops, undercover police mingling with the crowds, intelligence and military personnel are also involved in the security arrangements.

Channel 4 News correspondents said police checked everyone entering Trafalgar Square before the wedding and there was no sign of a gathering of anarchists protesters at the London landmark, despite fears that thousands would take part in an unauthorised event organised on Facebook.

A small group of peaceful demonstrators were allowed to unfurl a banner in the square reading:

A small group of peaceful demonstrators were allowed to unfurl a banner in the square reading: “Future King of England, don’t let war (sic) on peoples of the world.”

In the run-up to the wedding, anarchist groups had been identified as one of the biggest potential security threats along with al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic extremists, dissident Irish republican terrorists and lone stalkers.

More than 90 people have been banned from the City of Westminster as part of their bail conditions after being arrested or charged over various previous alleged disorder offences.

Fears of major protests near Westminster Abbey have eased after the Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades announced they no longer planned to attend. The English Defence League, which had warned of retaliatory protests, is now also thought unlikely to attend.