There has been widespread anger within the Jewish community – and beyond – over the police’s refusal to act against some of the most egregious and obvious forms of Jew hate seen on the three large demos that have so far taken place in London.
But while anger has been directed at the police, the Met’s mindset is not solely a product of its own obstinacy. Lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service were working alongside police officers in the control room at each of the three protests.
Sources within government, in bodies that have had experience dealing with the CPS, and within the CPS itself, have all confirmed to me that the CPS’s attitude is a far bigger problem than that of the police.
To put it at its most basic: there is little or no point in arresting someone if the CPS is unwilling to prosecute. And there appears to be a serious blockage in that respect. That means the police look at behaviour at the protests not simply as right or wrong in terms of the law but through the prism of whether the CPS will prosecute – and in the knowledge that the CPS has repeatedly shown an unwillingness to do so over hate crimes.
In 2021, four men were charged over the infamous “car convoy” through north-west London, when drivers of vehicles draped in Palestinian flags were filmed screaming violently antisemitic obscenities statements such as “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters”. Charges were suddenly dropped against two, but when the other two then went to court the CPS announced it had no evidence to bring, so the men were found not guilty. Because a verdict was returned, any possibility of a private prosecution was ruled out.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism has found that on a number of occasions the police have done excellent work, only for the CPS to refuse to charge – despite what it and the police believed was overwhelming evidence. CAA has had to bring two private prosecutions – one of which was then taken over successfully by the CPS, while the other was taken over and then immediately dropped.
One CPS employee, who is frustrated and angry with its behaviour, explained that there are two key problems: “First, far too many CPS lawyers are simply awful. They aren’t good enough to get work anywhere else so they end up at the CPS. And they are just not up to the job.”
But, the source explained, there is a more fundamental issue: “From the top down, the CPS has been infected with ‘woke’. All you ever hear is ‘inclusivity this and diversity that.’” The source described to me how senior staff “spend most of their time finding ways to show how progressive they are rather than actually doing the job they are there for.”
One senior government source said that the CPS is “stuffed with problematic people who know how to march through institutions.” This view is widespread among ministers. Another senior minister said that it was an “open secret” that the CPS is “unreformed and in desperate need of radical surgery”.
But it is not only a government view. A Labour source said that although the party has not focused on this publicly, given Sir Keir Starmer’s former role as head of the CPS, “he of all people knows what needs to be done”.
The source said the party was considering “how to make the CPS more effective. Take that how you will.”
The police are an easy target, given how many basic mistakes they make. But in some ways their behaviour is symptomatic of a deeper problem – with the CPS itself.