Reports volunteers arrested 'over rape alarms' on coronation day spark concern

The concern over the arrests come as the Met faces scrutiny over its handling of protests on coronation day, ITV News' Shehab Khan reports

A council says it is “deeply concerned” by reports that volunteers who work on women’s safety were arrested by the Metropolitan Police force in the early hours of coronation day.

The Met said three people were stopped by officers and arrested in the Soho area of central London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance at around 2am on Saturday.

Among items seized were a number of rape alarms, the force added.

The Met said it “received intelligence that indicated groups and individuals seeking to disrupt today’s coronation proceedings were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the procession”.

The three people – a 37-year-old woman, a 59-year-old woman and a 47-year-old man – were taken to a south London police station, where they were questioned.

The 47-year-old man was also further arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, police said.

All three have since been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “The intelligence we received led us to be extremely worried about the potential risk to public safety.

“We are aware of and understand there is public concern over these arrests. However, the matter is still under investigation.”

The arrests were first reported by journalist Mic Wright, who visited the volunteers being held at the police station where he said some had been held for hours and were "in tears".

Councillor Aicha Less, cabinet member for communities and public protection at Westminster City Council, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of our Night Stars volunteers being arrested overnight.

“This service has been a familiar and welcome sight in the West End for a long time and have extensive training so they can assist the most vulnerable on the streets late at night.

“We are working with the Metropolitan Police to establish exactly what happened, and in the meantime, we are in touch with our volunteers to ensure they are receiving the support they need.”

Night Stars is a part of the council’s night safety campaign.

According to the council’s website, Night Star volunteers are “focused on working with the West End’s evening and night-time economy businesses to promote women’s safety and reduce violence against women and girls”.

It adds: “The team will provide wider support to anyone who becomes vulnerable due to intoxication to reduce the risk to their safety or prevent them from becoming victims of crime.

“The Night Safety volunteers aim to make London’s nightlife safer for everyone.

“They provide a welcoming place for all and collaborate to ensure that Westminster’s nightlife remains a safe, inclusive and enjoyable experience for residents and visitors alike.”

Placards were taken from Republic protesters by police on Saturday Credit: Labour for a Republic/PA

The concern over the arrests come as the Met faces scrutiny over its handling of protests on coronation day.

The head of an anti-monarchy group was among 52 people arrested on the day of the King’s coronation.Protesters from campaign groups including Republic, and the environmental group Just Stop Oil were among those arrested on Saturday.

Anti-monarchy protesters demonstrate in London ahead of the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on Saturday Credit: Piroschka van de Wouw/PA

Republic's head Graham Smith was released by the Met Police at around 11pm on Saturday, and wrote that there there was “no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK."

The Met confirmed 52 people were arrested for affray, public order offences, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance around the coronation.

Met Commander Karen Findlay acknowledged concerns about the arrest of protesters but defended Scotland Yard’s actions on Saturday, saying: “Our duty is to do so in a proportionate manner in line with relevant legislation.”

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