Police warn protestors officers will 'take action' ahead of planned London demonstration

8 January 2021, 22:35

Police have warned that they will "take action" against protestors
Police have warned that they will "take action" against protestors. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Metropolitan Police has warned officers will take action against any protesters ahead of planned anti-lockdown demonstrations in London over the weekend.

Anti-lockdown group StandUpX is planning to stage a demonstration in Clapham Common, south London, on Saturday afternoon.

The protests were planned after England entered a period of strengthened coronavirus restrictions, including a "stay at home" message from the Government.

The group was also involved in a protest in Parliament Square earlier this week in which 21 people were arrested, and its social media accounts called for "thousands" to join the march.

However, an open letter from the Met Police said the force was "aware" of groups looking to gather to protest, and strongly advised people not to attend any public meetings.

It read: "The MPS strongly advises people not to attend any gathering, for the protection of yourselves and others.

"We are still in the middle of a global pandemic."

The statement added: "Police officers will take appropriate enforcement action where necessary.

"It is your responsibility to check the current position and ensure you are not committing an offence by being involved in a gathering.

"We urge anyone arranging a gathering to inform your local police."

It comes after the Met warned Londoners breaching Covid legislation "are increasingly likely to face fines".

The force said the public should expect officers to be more "inquisitive" about why they are "out and about" during England's third national lockdown.

People not wearing masks when they should be "and without good reason" can also expected to be "fined - not reasoned with".

Footage on social media showed a large police presence and a number of demonstrators being removed from the scene during the protests on Wednesday in Parliament Square.

On Friday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared a "major incident" in the capital due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty, the mayor listed the stark and troubling problems facing the city as its coronavirus outbreak spirals "out of control".

In some parts of the capital, Covid-19 infection rates are so high that one in 20 people have the virus, while London's average rate is one in 30, Mr Khan said.

The mayor revealed that the London Ambulance Service (LAS) is now receiving between 3,000 and 4,000 more calls every day than it would on a normal busy day.

He also confirmed the city's Nightingale hospital will be opened in the "coming days", but he said it will not be used for Covid patients.

Mr Khan told LBC: “Across London, we face a situation where this virus is out of control and we're at real risk over the next few days and weeks of the NHS hospitals running out of beds if the virus continues to increase and people continue to need to be hospitalised."

He urged Londoners to stay indoors unless they have a good reason to leave home, adding that if they must do so then they should wear face masks.

The mayor outlined to LBC the daunting challenges facing the capital: "Across the country, we've been told one out of 50 people have this virus. In London, the number on average is one in 30, but in some parts of London, one out of 20 now have this virus.

"On a normal busy day, the ambulance service receives 5,000 calls per day. It is now receiving between 8,000 and 9,000. So we're diverting firefighters and police officers to drive ambulances to help the ambulance service through this crisis.

"In our hospitals, we now have 35 per cent more patients than we had at the peak in spring, which is why I'm pleading with Londoners to please understand the best and safest way we can help our NHS, and get a grip of this virus, is to stay at home unless you have a good reason to leave your home."