update deskJewish & Israeli Holidays

Purim 2023

London borough’s police force ‘politely’ remind Jews not to drink, drive on Purim

“We’re proud of the close relationship we have with the Jewish communities of Hackney,” a New Scotland Yard spokesman tells JNS.

Orthodox Jewish men chat in Spitalfields Market in East London. Credit: Elena Rostunova/Shutterstock.
Orthodox Jewish men chat in Spitalfields Market in East London. Credit: Elena Rostunova/Shutterstock.

“For those celebrating Purim, we politely remind all to never drink and drive, and to drive carefully in a way that is respectful to other road users, including complying with parking restrictions,” Andy Port, neighborhood superintendent of the metropolitan police of Hackney, a London borough, stated the week prior to the Jewish holiday.

“Please be mindful of your neighbors by limiting noise after 10 p.m., and keeping the volume of music to a respectful level,” added the statement, which the Hackney Police tweeted.

“The comments referred to in the tweet were based on community intelligence, and these comments and the others were aimed at keeping the Jewish communities and our wider communities safe during this celebration,” Pete Davey, of the press bureau of the New Scotland Yard, told JNS. “The crux of the message was to wish everyone a safe and happy Purim.”

The Jewish Police Association “quality assured” the statement before it went out, said Davey. He added that police routinely issue advice prior to religious holidays, including about drunk driving on Christmas and “being aware of gold theft incidents during Diwali.”

Two posts the Hackney police tweeted on Diwali—one on Nov. 4, 2021 and the other Oct. 28, 2016—wished the public a happy, lovely and peaceful holiday without mentioning theft. “Don’t find yourself on the Naughty List this Christmas,” it tweeted Dec. 21, 2018. “ Neighborhood Task Force officers will be increasing patrols to tackle violence, weapons, drugs, thefts, drunk driving.” (The main Metropolitan Police handle has tweeted often about theft on Diwali and about drunk driving on Christmas.)

“We’re proud of the close relationship we have with the Jewish communities of Hackney, and work hard to support them and keep them safe all year round and particularly during religious festivals,” said Davey.

Port joined officers “patrolling as part of a wider policing plan, and we are happy to say that we are not aware of any incidents of note.”

Hackney includes the heavily Chassidic neighborhood of Stamford Hill, where recent antisemitic incidents have targeted Jewish children, according to social-media posts from the security group Shomrim.

A 10-year-old boy was on his way home from school when an adult male punched him in the stomach. Another man yelled an obscenity and “You are not normal” at an 8-year-old girl traveling on a public bus. The man tried to follow her when she exited the bus, but the driver prevented him from doing so, according to Shomrim. In another instance, a woman shouted an obscenity and yelled “Ugly Jewish kids” at a 74-year-old woman and several Jewish girls waiting for a bus.

Another man was recorded on video banging on the homes of Jewish residents at 6 a.m. and shouting, “I will come on Shabbos when you can’t call the police.”

A report by the Community Security Trust stated that the number of antisemitic incidents in Great Britain fell 27% from 2021 to 2022. However, it noted the “alarming trend” of antisemitic acts now targeting minors. In cases where the victim’s age was recorded, the number of acts against minors rose from just 8% in 2021 to 15% in 2022.

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