Sir Mark Rowley, the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has told his officers to stop associating themselves with political causes, such as Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Pride. The Telegraph has more.
Britain’s most senior policeman has said his officers will not be allowed to express support for “woke” causes while on duty because it is essential that they are impartial.
Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, made it clear that he will not tolerate officers taking the knee, flying rainbow flags or adorning their uniforms with badges that support environmental causes.
He described himself as “fairly narrow-minded” on the issue and said the only acceptable additions to uniforms were remembrance poppies, Help for Heroes wristbands and the police memorial badge.
His comments signal that he will take a much harder line than his predecessor, Dame Cressida Dick, who was criticised for allowing officers to take the knee while policing Black Lives Matter protests and under whose watch officers danced and skateboarded with Extinction Rebellion activists.
Sir Mark said getting drawn into political causes – even popular ones – could be “fatal” for policing, telling the Telegraph: “Wearing a poppy in the autumn is perfectly proper, but there is not a lot that we should align to because the danger is that once you say, ‘we are going to align ourselves to a cause because 90 per cent of the population support it’, what about the 10 per cent?
“Once you start having environmental and other subjects there are lots of people in the organisation who will personally support those causes and that is OK, but the Metropolitan Police explicitly supporting them is quite tricky. I’m fairly narrow-minded on this. There are very few causes policing should be attached to.”
Sir Mark’s comments signal that he will be less tolerant than Dame Cressida, under whom Scotland Yard initially said it was at individual officers’ discretion if they wanted to take the knee to support Black Lives Matter, even while they were policing protests. Dame Cressida later said she would not take the knee and that she had ordered her officers not to do so.
Under her watch, a police vehicle was given a Pride rainbow colour scheme to show support for LGBTQ+ causes at taxpayers’ expense.
In 2019, there was public outrage after Met officers were seen dancing and skateboarding with Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors when they were meant to be policing an illegal protest. The officers’ commander later described the behaviour as “unacceptable”.