Pro-Palestinian and Israeli protests cost Metropolitan Police £26.5m

The policing of pro-Palestinian and Israeli protests in London has cost the Metropolitan Police £26.5m so far, one of the force's senior officers has confirmed.

Assistant commissioner Matt Twist, who is in charge of operations, said 30,000 officer shifts had been spent on the nine pro-Palestinian and three pro-Israeli demonstrations in the capital since the Hamas attacks in Israel on 7 October and the subsequent war in Gaza.

He told a Policy Exchange event on Wednesday that around 6,800 shifts had been carried out by officers coming into London to assist the Met and 4,600 rest days had been cancelled.

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Mr Twist warned of a wider impact on the force's counter-terrorism operations since the start of the conflict, saying the Met had received 2,700 public referrals to its extremism line - a 700% increase - and there were 30 ongoing investigations.

"So what the future brings is something we are all alert to," he added. "We need to be careful around this."

The Met has come in for criticism over its policing of the marches, including from within government.

A number of ministers questioned if officers were being tough enough against protesters they believed were inciting hatred, while former home secretary Suella Braverman accused the force of "biased" in favour of left-wing protesters.

But Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said his officers were "constantly managing tensions" and would "robustly enforce up to the line of the law".

He also told Sky News there was a "gap" in the law when it comes to extremism, and there was "scope to be much sharper" in legislation to tackle it amid the protests.

On Wednesday, Mr Twist said the "very, very large" protests held during weekends were an "acute challenge" for the force and its officers, alongside the "chronic challenges of dealing with daily protest, activism and demonstrations every single day".

But he insisted the force's response to the protests had "become sharper and more decisive as the events have progressed", adding that the "context" of the ongoing conflict was key.

The assistant commissioner also said the impact on both Jewish and Muslim communities in the city "resonates so loudly on the streets of London", so it was important for officers to be "alert" to it.

"That is why we are making so much effort and putting in so much time into engaging with local communities," added the assistant commissioner.

"[The Met has made] over 16,000 visits to synagogues, mosques and schools as well [built on] as strategic partnerships we have with some of the senior members of those communities right across the capital."