London – CAGE will formally report The Home Secretary to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for breach of the Equality Act and undermining freedom of expression and assembly as protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and international treaties. In a written response to the Home Secretary’s letter to Chief Constables in England and Wales regarding Palestine solidarity, CAGE said that the guidance offered by the Home Secretary amounts to a directive that undermines the long standing convention of the operational independence of police forces from the central government.

Police forces have already begun to act on this directive, with Greater Manchester Police Force arresting three pro-Palestine protesters in recent days in addition to separate reports that CAGE has received.

CAGE calls on all to continue their support for Palestinian’s and their right to resist in the face of Israeli war crimes and occupation

The letter in full can be read here:

Dear Ms S Braverman,

We write further to your letter of 10 October 2023 issued to all Chief Constables in England and Wales and copied to Police and Crime Commissioners.

We are shocked by the contents of the letter which undermines the long-standing convention that police forces maintain operational independence from both the central government and Police and Crime Commissioners. You would be wise to study the history of policing in England and Wales since 1829 and ponder the fact that every minister, bar you, has understood and adhered to this principle.

As we set out below, we contend that your actions amount to an instruction to every police force to implement a policy which is discriminatory on grounds of race and religion. It is one thing to engage in inflammatory rhetoric to cultivate and encourage the worst prejudices that exist in our society, as is your disposition, but quite another to shamelessly give unlawful instructions.

We draw your attention to section 111 of the Equality Act 2010 which states in clear terms that it is unlawful for a person to instruct, cause or induce someone to discriminate against, harass or victimise another person, or to attempt to do so.

In accordance with that section, you clearly have a relationship with the recipients of the instruction that you have given because of the significant role your department plays in the funding, setting of priorities and controlling senior appointments. However, this power cannot be abused or used to give unlawful instructions.

You have attempted to disguise your clear intentions by the deceitful use of ‘encourage’. As you say in your own letter, ‘Context is crucial’. You know full well that your letter is not merely encouragement but amounts to a directive as to how every police officer should deal with the various scenarios, examples of which you give, such as:

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” should be understood as an expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world, and whether its use in certain contexts may amount to a racially aggravated section 5 public order offence.

“the waving of a Palestinian flag”

“aggressively chant or wave pro-Palestinian symbols”

You are giving specific directions and judging such acts to amount to glorifying terrorism.

There is voluminous research produced by your department which highlights the deeply entrenched structural discrimination faced by the Muslim community. Despite this, it is startling and insightful that you do not make even a passing reference to the hatred that is stirred up against British Muslims.

The empirical evidence from statistics produced by your own department shows that at a time of heightened community tensions by far the highest proportion of victims of racial violence are non-white and Muslims. In view of your open hostility to this community, you clearly see them as not victims but likely to be ‘Islamists and other racists’ that you blatantly reference. There can be no doubt that the vast proportion of those who are likely to be arrested for waving a Palestinian flag or attending a solidarity demonstration will be non-white and Muslim. In those circumstances, your instructions are clearly influenced, if not, plainly based on racial and/or religious criteria.

Moreover, your letter must be read in light of the xenophobic and hostile statements that you have made in relation to immigration issues, which have caused international outrage from not only non-governmental organisations, but senior politicians and UN officials.

In order to illustrate that our assertions above are not illusory or ‘raising false grievances’, you will be aware that three protesters were arrested in Manchester in the last few days for waving the Palestinian flag establishing a clear causal link between your orders and compliance by the Greater Manchester Police Force. We have also received further reports of similar arrests in other parts of the country. It is clear therefore that your discriminatory instructions are being implemented, leading to increased fear amongst the Muslim community. Every non-white and/or Muslim person has a greater chance of now being arrested for merely wearing a Palestinian logo or being at a demonstration.

Your actions have not only disgraced the office of Home Secretary but also discredited the reputation of impartiality and objectivity of the police. In addition, your directive undermines the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and other international treaties.

We put you on notice that we are reporting you to The Equality and Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into your conduct with a view to enforcing section 111 of the Equality Act 2010 using its statutory powers. We will also support individual civil claims from those impacted by your actions.

You may well go down in history as the first Home Secretary to have given a discriminatory directive to police forces in England and Wales. However, you should be under no illusion that you will not in any way stop the right of every individual exercising their fundamental freedom to protest and voice their dissent against the war crimes that are being committed in Gaza and the Occupied Territories.

Your tenure as Home Secretary will eventually come to an end, but we will remain steadfast in protecting the rights and freedoms of all irrespective of their race or religion.

Yours Sincerely,

Muhammad Rabbani

Managing Director, CAGE

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)