The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has warned that “consequences will follow” for people who attack police officers and damage property amid growing fears that London is facing a summer of unrest.
Writing in The Sun, Dame Cressida Dick said it had been a “very difficult few weeks” in the capital as lockdown started to ease, with more than 30 officers injured as they worked to disperse crowds at various incidents.
Police were called to an unlicensed music event in the Kensal Town area of west London on Friday.
The previous day, officers sent to break up a street party in Notting Hill, west London, were pelted with objects and dozens of officers were injured in violent scenes in Brixton on Wednesday evening.
The incidents have sparked concerns that unrest will continue through the summer as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Dick wrote in The Sun: “The restrictions on lives over the last three months of the pandemic have been hard. But in recent days we have seen large numbers completely flouting the health regulations and breaking the law.
“Worst of all, we have seen police officers targeted with appalling violence.
“It has been hot, some people are drinking too much and some become angry and aggressive. A minority of people are just plain violent and seek out trouble.”
She added: “My message to those involved in thuggery, threats and criminal damage is that consequences will follow.”
Her comments came after Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Daily Express that those who attack police “will be taken off our streets”.
John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation, warned that the government’s announcement about loosening the lockdown on July 4 could be “a countdown to party time”.
He said: “This will, without doubt, add more pressure on policing, paramedics and the wider NHS.”
On Saturday, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Ian Blair said there needed to be a “public conversation” about the amount of violence being directed towards police in recent weeks.
Lord Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme said: “It cannot be right that this level of injury to officers is seen as acceptable.”
He added: “This is not a normal situation where an occupation carries this sort of risk of injury every day.”
Referring to an incident during recent Black Lives Matter protests, which saw a female police officer injured when she fell from her horse, he said: “That seen as the policewoman riding her horse and being smashed against the road sign because people were so angry is just not appropriate.
“Obviously this is a matter for courts and sentencing but I also think it is actually a matter for public conversation. This should not be like this.”