Protesters arrested after hundreds gathered for anti-police demo in London

15 March 2021, 22:30 | Updated: 16 March 2021, 07:10

Officers looked on as protesters chanted anti-police slogans in Parliament Square
Officers looked on as protesters chanted anti-police slogans in Parliament Square. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Protesters scattered across central London were arrested for breaching Covid-19 rules following a demonstration of hundreds of people.

Officers began confronting individuals after the main protest ended following multiple groups marching through main roads and side streets across the capital.

The Reclaim These Streets campaigners were protesting police actions at the Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common on Saturday night

Videos online show police stopping people and asking for their details, before giving them an ultimatum to go home or face arrest.

READ MORE: Priti Patel urged to 'decriminalise protest' after Sarah Everard vigil

READ MORE: British public supports Cressida Dick amid fallout from Sarah Everard vigil, poll finds

Police said they arrested four people and issued two fixed penalty notices during the protests.

The Met said they had "maintained an appropriate policing plan" during the protest around Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and parts of the West End.

Protesters blocked "a number of roads" and caused traffic disruption, the force added.

Many protesters chose to leave the area when encouraged to do so by officers, but others remained in the Westminster area, the Met added.

Hundreds gathered outside Parliament on Monday
Hundreds gathered outside Parliament on Monday. Picture: PA Images

One female protester told officers she was in her local area and had been going home before she was detained.

Another demonstrator was placed in handcuffs while fellow campaigners shouted "don't kneel on his neck".

Police officers could be heard instructing them to leave immediately.

Temporary Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: "Whilst I understand why people feel the need to express their views at this time, we must remember that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and that there is the constant risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

"Our officers were once again out on the streets, with the primary role of trying to ensure people's safety during this health crisis.

"Despite many people adhering to officers' instructions to leave the area and go home, we had to take some enforcement action as the evening progressed.

"Three people were arrested on suspicion of breaching the Health Protection Regulations. Two remain in custody and the third was released after being issued with a fixed penalty notice.

"A fourth person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and remains in custody. In addition to the arrests, two people were issued with fixed penalty notices.

"We will continue to review how we police events such as this and I would urge people to think carefully before joining any future protests."

Police watched on as hundreds of people gathered to protest against their actions
Police watched on as hundreds of people gathered to protest against their actions. Picture: PA Images

Hundreds gathered at Parliament Square at 5pm on Monday despite Covid warnings from the police and the Home Secretary.

Officers chose to facilitate while the group booed them and chanted "kill the bill" and "sisters united" following widespread criticism of their actions.

Priti Patel urged people not to participate in large gatherings or to attend protests while Covid-19 regulations remain in place.

READ MORE: PM backs Met chief amid outrage over policing of Sarah Everard vigil

She told MPs: "Over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic, the police have been faced with an unenviable and immediately difficult task. It is one for the most part that they have approached with skill and professionalism, helping to enforce regulations as determined by Parliament with one crucial objective in mind, to save lives.

"This House approved those changes by 524 votes to 16 on January 6 this year. Sadly, as of Sunday March 14, more than 125,500 lives have been lost to this horrible virus.

"It is for that reason that I continue to urge everyone for as long as these regulations are in place not to participate in large gatherings or attend protests."

Protesters chanted "kill the bill" as they moved to block Westminster Bridge
Protesters chanted "kill the bill" as they moved to block Westminster Bridge. Picture: PA Images
Protesters against the Metropolitan Police blocked Westminster Bridge
Protesters against the Metropolitan Police blocked Westminster Bridge. Picture: PA Images

After holding a minute's silence and making speeches, the group moved to block off traffic on Westminster Bridge to cause disruption, before being told by organisers to instead move along.

They then moved outside New Scotland Yard, where some of the group lay down on the road while other chanted "shame on you" and booed officers guarding the entrance to the Metropolitan Police headquarters.

READ MORE: Dame Cressida Dick rules out resignation over Sarah Everard vigil clash

Officers began questioning and arresting individuals as the crowds dispersed and split off into side streets across the capital.

It comes as Downing Street announced a doubling in size of the Safer Streets fund after Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a meeting of the Criminal Justice Taskforce with Ms Patel and Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

Protesters made their way to New Scotland Yard to protest against the Met Police
Protesters made their way to New Scotland Yard to protest against the Met Police. Picture: PA Images

The fund, which provides neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV, will be boosted to £45 million as ministers insist they are committed to working with police forces and commissioners to ensure areas of potential concern for women and girls are targeted and urgently made safer.

The PM said in a statement: "We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe, and we are bringing in landmark legislation to toughen sentences and put more police on the streets.

READ MORE: Met officer facing probe after 'sending inappropriate graphic'

"We are also now taking further steps to provide greater reassurance, such as providing better lighting and greater use of CCTV in parks and routes women may take on their walks home.

"Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them."

The announcement came ahead of fresh defeats inflicted on the Government by Lords seeking changes to domestic abuse legislation, including a move to flag, track and target repeat perpetrators and stalkers.

The House of Lords on Monday evening backed a measure which would see culprits put on the violent and sex offender register and subjected to monitoring and management through Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa).

Under its terms, the Government will also have to produce a comprehensive strategy for dealing with domestic abusers and stalkers, within a year of the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law.

READ MORE: Police officer appears in court charged with Sarah Everard murder

It follows the charging of a serving Met Police officer with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in court on Saturday, where it was revealed the 33-year-old's remains were discovered in a large bag.

His case will be heard at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.