A report by the conservative think tank Policy Exchange called “Tarnished Jewel” has warned that decay and violent crime have risen sharply in Westminster’s Parliament Square, with historical monuments now added to a list of “contentious statues” prone to attack due to their links to slavery. The report’s author, Andrew Gilligan, a former political aide to Boris Johnson, said that the area has become a “degree of squalor and disorder” due to crime, illegal vendors, confidence tricksters, broken windows, graffiti not fully cleaned for months, and protesters on both sides of the political divide who have “privatised the pavement.”
The report noted that between 2013/14 and 2021/22, the area, which includes the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey, had seen a 168 percent rise in violent crime compared to a 67 percent rise in London and a 47 percent rise in the Westminster borough. It also said that the rise in offenses coincided with “relaxed rules” on Westminster protests, and that the “controlled area” for protests should be restored to what it was until 2011, within one kilometre of Parliament, covering all the main departments and Downing Street.
As part of the investigation, the report noted that the historical monuments of Winston Churchill, Horatio Nelson, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and Oliver Cromwell in Parliament Square had been put on a police list of “contentious” statues that were prone to attack because of their links to war, colonialism, or slavery. This also included the Cenotaph, the UK’s official national war memorial, which symbolises the lives lost during the First World War.
The report argued that authorities should take out a wider Public Space Protection Order, covering anti-social behaviour in the whole area around Parliament, and that there should be a statutory duty on police to protect the UK’s democratic institutions and to protect the right of access to the parliamentary estate for those with business there.
The Epoch Times contacted the Mayor of London/Greater London Authority for comment.