Fresh questions have been raised to the Met Police after several council volunteers were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning ahead of the Coronation service.
Several ‘Night Star’ volunteers on duty at 2am in Soho handing out rape alarms to women were arrested due to concerns the alarms were to be used to disrupt the coronation procession.
A total of 64 people were arrested by police on the coronation day itself, 52 of which were related to concerns over disruption of the event, with eight people detained for wider offences such as sexual harm and possession of weapons. Six people were arrested at St Martin’s lane following the discovery of potential ‘lock-on’ devices. Just four individuals arrested during the day were charged.
In a statement on Monday night the Met said it regretted the arrests. It told WT that it had two women and a man were taken to a South London police station over concerns that the rape devices could be used to scare horses on the procession.
It said: “We received intelligence that indicated groups and individuals seeking to disrupt the Coronation proceedings were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the procession. There was particular concern from military colleagues that this would scare their horses involved in the procession and, as a result, cause significant risk to the safety of the public and the riders.”
All three volunteers have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.
The Met also rejected any suggestions that Saturday’s arrests were designed to curb protests on a nationally significant event.
“Ahead of the Coronation, a significant police operation was launched after we received information protesters were determined to disrupt the Coronation procession. Our activity was targeted at those we believed were intent on taking this action.
“It was not our intention to prevent protest and whilst the vast masses of the crowd were there to celebrate and witness a once in a generation event, it is very clear a number of protests took place across the footprint both before, during and after the event with no police intervention. Any suggestion all protest was prohibited is not correct.”
Meanwhile, Westminster Council expressed its concern for the volunteers who it said were trained to assist the most vulnerable on the streets at night.
Aicha Less, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Protection said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of our Night Stars volunteers being arrested overnight. This service has been a familiar and welcome sight in the West End for a long time and the volunteers have extensive training so they can assist the most vulnerable on the streets late at night.
“We are working with the Metropolitan Police to establish exactly what happened, and in the meantime, we are in touch with our volunteers to ensure they are receiving the support they need.”
Main image: Met Police.