“Up to 140-odd” police officers have been injured while responding to protests and illegal parties in the past three weeks, according to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Speaking after officers faced attacks in London for the second night in a row, Dame Cressida Dick condemned aggression towards police at illegal parties as “utterly unacceptable”.
The Scotland Yard chief said the force has a “duty” to stop unlawful music events during the coronavirus pandemic and vowed: “We will be prepared this weekend.”
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
At least 22 officers were reportedly injured while responding to a street party in Brixton on Wednesday night, with footage showing a police car being destroyed and officers being chased down streets.
The following night, revellers at Notting Hill’s Colville Gardens pelted officers with objects in an encounter which Dame Cressida described as “very unacceptable behaviour but very much less serious”, with no police injuries. Officers also attended another party in Streatham Common.
The UK’s most senior officer said police “closed down several before they even got going”, claiming: “The local communities hate them, [it is] incredibly anti-social behaviour, very noisy during a pandemic and sometimes [there is] violence.”
Police also faced violence at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest outside Downing Street, during which mounted police charged protesters.
The next weekend, officers were attacked by crowds mobilised by the far-right and right-wing football groups under the guise of defending statues, in and around Parliament Square.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has told the Daily Express that those who attack police “will be taken off our streets”.
Police Federation chair John Apter has warned the government’s announcement about loosening the lockdown on 4 July could be “a countdown to party time”, saying: “This leads to issues that the police will have to deal with.
“Firstly, of course, there are worries about alcohol consumption leading to drunken and irresponsible behaviour, and there’s also the concern that people who can’t get into pubs because of restrictions that are still in place may cause conflict.
“This will, without doubt, add more pressure on policing, paramedics and the wider NHS.”
Greater Manchester Police officials and mayor Andy Burnham have also warned of a crackdown on illegal parties, after a “quarantine rave” in Trafford saw three people stabbed, one woman raped, and a suspected drug death.
Speaking on Thursday, Dame Cressida said: ”We have seen some large numbers of people completely flouting the health regulations, seeming not to care at all about their own or their families’ health and wanting to have large parties.
“It is hot. Some people have drunk far too much. Some people are just angry and aggressive and some people are plain violent.
“We will be prepared this weekend. We have officers all over London working hard again to try to keep the peace and to protect our public from violence and disorder.”
In a message to the public, she added: “Tell us about unlicensed music events. We will come and close them down. My message to my officers is that I will support you and I will do everything I can to ensure that you are able to do your job to your best ability and that you are well equipped.”