Police make 190 arrests during anti-lockdown protest march in London

6 November 2020, 06:15 | Updated: 6 November 2020, 15:52

Hundreds of people marched in central London
Hundreds of people marched in central London. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Police arrested 190 anti-lockdown protesters in central London as hundreds marched calling for 'freedom' on the day tougher coronavirus rules came into force in England.

Officers urged demonstrators to go home as they took to the streets near Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, warning those who had gathered that they were breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters, very few of whom were wearing face coverings, began to walk up the Strand soon after 6pm, chanting "freedom" and "no more lockdown".

Trailed by a large number of officers from both the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, protesters were repeatedly told to go home, with one officer shouting at a group: "You are breaking the law."

190 people were arrested
190 people were arrested. Picture: PA

The Met said in a statement all 190 were arrested for breaching the new coronavirus legislation.

Some 189 of these are being investigated for a fixed penalty notice and one person is being investigated for a £10,000 fine, the force said.

Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “There can be no excuse for breaching the regulations which have been designed to save lives and keep people safe.

“Those who came out to protest last night put their health at risk and frustratingly, they put the health of London and our officers at risk, this is clearly unacceptable.

“A significant policing plan was in place last night and officers moved swiftly to speak with those who were intending to gather. Officers explained very clearly the regulations and unfortunately a number of people took deliberate steps to ignore the direction. Because of this, firm action was taken and a large number of arrests were made.

"We will not tolerate these dangerous breaches of the regulations.“190 is a significant amount of arrests and we have a post-incident plan in place to ensure these investigations are progressed and the suspects are brought to justice.

"For anyone who plans to come out over the next four weeks, it is your responsibility to ensure we all comply with the current regulations. Officers will be out and about engaging with members of the public and the small minority who deliberately refuse to abide by the rules will see enforcement action being taken."

Four protesters, one of whom was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, were arrested by police officers near the gates of Charing Cross Station.

Soon after 7pm, a smaller demonstration gathered near Primark on Oxford Street, where a number of protesters were grouped in by two lines of officers.

Those clustered in by police chanted "stand up" while officers encouraged protesters gathered nearby to go home.

"You need to leave, you are breaching coronavirus restrictions," one officer told demonstrators.

The Metropolitan Police said that protesters were ignoring directions from officers and warned enforcement action would be taken against those who did not disperse.

A number of police vans and officers were still in place on Oxford Street soon before 8pm, while a number of protesters remained grouped in.

Commander Connors said: "I would continue to urge people across the city to keep yourselves safe and stick to the regulations."