Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has revealed she ordered officers not to ‘take the knee’ and says she would not do it herself.
Dame Cressida, 59, defended the two policemen who adopted the pose at Black Lives Matter protests in June.
But she said she had instructed officers at every briefing since to avoid doing the kneel, which is a protest against social justice.
She said ‘every briefing after that for the protests included we will not be taking the knee’ in a crackdown on the gesture.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had told officers not to take the knee
Dame Cressida said: ‘Taking the knee, I think some of my officers took the knee.
‘I haven’t spoken to them personally but I believe they did that because the crowd that was in front of them, they’d endured all of them a long hard day, hours of protest, they were being abused, being shouted at by all kinds of people, not least I have to say my black and ethnic minority officers suffering racial abuse.
‘They are police officers so they get on with their job but that section of the crowd were saying again and again and again ‘take the knee, take the knee, take knee’ and I imagine that they thought in order to keep that bit of the crowd a bit quieter and to show some respect and some humility and some respect to what happened to George Floyd they took the knee.
‘That evening I said we are not going to do that in a public order or operational situation and every briefing after that for the protests included we will not be taking the knee.’
Metropolitan Police officers take a knee at June 3’s Black Lives Matter protest in London
Several officers adopted the iconic pose in support of the anti-racism protests in London
The senior police chief made the comments on LBC talking to radio host Nick Ferrari.
She refused to comment on the chief constable of Kent Police Alan Pughsley taking the knee at a protest in Gravesent last month.
Dame Cressida added: ‘People are taking the knee for all sort of reasons.
‘I wouldn’t, I’m a professional police officer and I don’t think we should in operational procedures.’
It came after the Metropolitan Police gave the green light to its officers taking a knee during the Black Lives Matter protest at the start of June.
Several officers adopted the iconic pose in support of the anti-racism protests in London which were sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US and are now sweeping the world.
It was the first time police in the UK have used the bold stance and those that did outside Downing Street were applauded with whoops and cheers from the crowd.
But older officers condemned the move and said police should not kneel to protesters.
One former officer tweeted: ‘I served in the Met Police many years ago. Take a knee, never never ever, I’m ashamed of what they have to do today.
In my day it would have been very very different. The Mayor of London and Cressida Dick should resign in total shame.’
In a statement at the time Scotland Yard said: ‘We know passions are running high and like everyone we were appalled by the images of George Floyd losing his life.
‘Our officers are part of the communities of London and care deeply about justice and equality.
‘Taking the knee is a personal decision and should individual officers at their own discretion, where it was safe to do so, and is doesn’t interfere with their operational duties, decide to kneel on one knee with Londoners they are free to do so.’
Kent Police’s chief constable Alan Pughsley pictured ‘taking the knee’ in Gravesent, Kent
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said his colleagues kneeling down was a show of empathy and respect over the death of Mr Floyd.
He said: ‘I think that by those officers taking a knee during the protests yesterday shows that we are human beings.
‘I think it shows that we try to understand what is put in front of us in a very difficult situation.
‘Bear in mind we are in the middle of a pandemic which is still killing hundreds of people every day, you shouldn’t have a crowd of thousands of people in the way that there was yesterday so a lot of empathy was shown in terms of the policing.’
It came after a police force angered officers by warning that they may face consequences if they decline to ‘take the knee’ at anti-racism protests.
Hertfordshire Constabulary said those who chose not to make the solidarity gesture ‘may become the focus of the protesters’ attention’.
The advice was issued during a recent operational briefing and points out that, when officers kneel down – joining in the symbolic stance – it ‘has a very positive reaction on the protest groups’.
Met chief insists she only apologised for ‘distress’ not the stop and search of Team GB athlete, insisting ‘any officer worth their salt’ would have still done it
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has denied throwing officers under the bus by apologising to athlete Bianca Williams.
The force faced accusations of racial profiling after Great Britain sprinter Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, were pulled from their car in a London street in a stop and search.
Speaking on LBC, Dame Cressida said “any officer worth their salt” would have stopped the car because of the way it was being driven.
She told host Nick Ferrari: “I don’t personally accept that what we have seen so far on the video in relation to the stop of Miss Williams reveals racism.
“Having seen some of the footage myself, I would say that any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car that was being driven in that manner.”
The Met chief said she had apologised to Williams “as one human being to another” for any distress caused, but believed the officers had done nothing wrong.
“I apologised for the distress that she suffered, the distress that was caused. I was very specific,” Dame Cressida said.
Asked if she had thrown the officers involved under the bus, she said: “I did not throw them under the bus and I don’t, I support them fully in doing stop and search, doing it effectively, doing it in an intelligence-led way, doing it professionally.”
Lawyers for the Met are looking at how the force can start releasing clips of incidents from officers’ body-worn video more quickly without breaching privacy laws, to counter criticism stemming from footage posted on social media.
A second incident that provoked controversy was the arrest of Marcus Coutain, in Islington, north London, during which an officer placed a knee on his neck.
Dame Cressida said: “The techniques that you saw are not taught in training.”
But she insisted that dealing with suspects can be a “fluid situation” involving physical confrontation.