The Met Police chief has said there is scope for “sharper” laws in dealing with extremism amid a surge of protests in the capital over the Israel-Hamas war.
Sir Mark Rowley told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips that his officers are working “ruthlessly” to arrest anyone who “steps over the line” by committing a hate crime.
But he said that while the UK has robust laws in dealing with this, there is a “gap” when it comes to extremism.
He said: “I think there is scope to be much sharper in how we deal with extremism in this country. The law was never designed to deal with extremism.
“There’s a lot to do with terrorism and hate crime but we don’t have a body of law that deals with extremism and that is creating a gap.”
The UK government is reportedly planning on reconsidering its definition of extremism amid concerns the Met Police aren’t being tough enough against protesters they believe are inciting hatred.
Sir Mark Rowley said there have been “distasteful” scenes at recent pro-Palestine protests but some of those actions were not at the level to be prosecuted.
“We’ve got these big protests and some of what goes on there, people do find it upsetting and distasteful and sometimes people give an instinctive view that must not be legal.
“But there’s no point arresting hundreds of people if it’s not prosecutable, that’s just inflaming things.”
He added: “We will robustly enforce up to the line of the law.
“We’re going to be absolutely ruthless and we have been and you’ll see many more arrests over the next week or so.”
Some government ministers have been critical of the policing of pro-Palestinian rallies – which come against the backdrop of worsening conflict in the Middle East.
Science Secretary Michelle Donelan told Trevor Philips the government “want to see a stricter clampdown” of the protests, saying some have “crossed the line”.
However, she said she believed the existing law is “fit for purpose” when asked if the government might review the definition of extremism.