Police chiefs from across the UK have issued a joint statement saying they ‘stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified’ by the death of George Floyd.
Mr Floyd died after a white officer handcuffed him and held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25. It sparked protests and riots across the US along with other demonstrations around the world.
In a statement, the chief constables, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the chief executive of the College of Policing and the president of the Police Superintendents’ Association said: ‘We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and accountability should follow.’
They also urged people who wish to join similar protests that ‘coronavirus remains a deadly disease and there are still restrictions in place to prevent its spread, which include not gathering outside in groups of more than six people’.
It comes as thousands of protesters began to gather in London’s Hyde Park for a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Ahead of the gathering, both standard officers and liaison officers were seen speaking to campaigners, with additional constables on horseback.
Organisers were seen handing out gloves and reminded attendees to try and keep two meters apart.
The UK’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, echoed the sentiment expressed by her colleagues.
She told the London Assembly: ‘We are also horrified, sitting here in London, as most people, at the violence and destruction that is going on in so many cities in the States in the last few days. And our hearts go out to everybody who’s been affected by that.’
Dame Cressida added: ‘I do want to reassure people in London that we will continue with our tradition of policing, using minimum force necessary, working as closely as we possibly can with our communities.
‘Met officers and staff are highly professional, they’re very well trained, they’re very restrained and they’re also very, very highly scrutinised, something we don’t flinch from at all.’
Tuesday marked the eighth night of protests in the US.
Demonstrations have taken place in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Columbia, South Carolina and Houston.
Some have included widely reported clashes between police and protesters, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Protesters have also defied curfews and President Donald Trump has pressed governors to put down violence sparked by Mr Floyd’s death, even going so far as threatening to deploy the military against his own citizens.
In the UK, demonstrators previously protested outside the US Embassy in south London as well as in Trafalgar Square following Mr Floyd’s death.
The police joint statement highlighted the tradition of policing by consent and said officers are trained to use force ‘proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary’.
It continued: ‘We strive to continuously learn and improve. We will tackle bias, racism or discrimination wherever we find it.
‘Policing is complex and challenging and sometimes we fall short. When we do, we are not afraid to shine a light on injustices or to be held to account.
‘The relationship between the police and the public in the UK is strong but there is always more to do. Every day, up and down the country, officers and staff are working to strengthen those relationships and address concerns. Only by working closely with our communities do we build trust and help keep people safe.’