Eight police officers have been injured after bottles and other objects were thrown at them as they cleared crowds following a protest against Covid-19 vaccine passports and coronavirus lockdown restrictions in central London.
Photographs posted on social media show a female police officer bleeding from a cut to her head, while another suffered a similar wound on his forehead.
Two officers were taken to hospital, although their injuries are not believed to be serious, the Metropolitan Police said.
Three people were arrested for offences including assault on police.
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “These officers are just doing a job, they’re somebody’s son, daughter they’re mums and dads.
“To be targeted in the way they are says a lot about the society we’ve become.
“I will continue to do my best to support them but I need Government to do more, much more.”
Earlier in the day thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital in a largely peaceful demonstration.
However, when the protested ended, some people gathered in Hyde Park in breach of lockdown restrictions.The protest, organised by the Unite for Freedom group and other Covid-critical organisations, saw people holding placards reading «Do Not Comply», «We Want Our Freedom», “Covid-19 Vaccine Holocaust”, and: “No To Vaccine Passports.”
Another banner read: “You don’t need proof to know truth.”
A poster shared on social media said the protest was for «medical freedom» and promised the «biggest street party London has ever seen».
The police said they had increased officer numbers in the capital for the protest and said they made two arrests during the march; a 38-year-old man was arrested near Embankment on suspicion of a public order offence, while a 37-year-old man was arrested near Trafalgar Square on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and a public order offence.
Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers – an independent candidate for London mayor – was reportedly at the protest as well as TV nutritionist and I’m A Celebrity… contestant Gillian McKeith.
The protest is in response to debate surrounding the trial of Covid certification in the UK to access entertainment and sporting venues with some discussions questioning whether employers should enforce vaccines.
Earlier this month, MPs and activists warned vaccine passports could be used as a tool for discrimination and could be «divisive».
Currently, coronavirus restrictions in England have eased to allow six people to meet outdoors and the prime minister has said that the UK is on track for restrictions to be further eased on May 17 to allow indoor gatherings.
However, there are concerns over a third wave due to surges of the virus in Europe and India.
The majority of protesters did not appear to be socially distancing and were not wearing face coverings.
Some people were seen singing, dancing or playing instruments in the street.
Lockdown restrictions in England began easing on April 12 allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen outdoor seating areas.
Step four of the government’s roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions for England currently states that all legal limits on social contact will be removed by June 21 at the earliest, when restrictions on large events such as festivals are also expected to ease.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), coronavirus rates have continued to fall across much of the UK.
A government scientific adviser said on Friday that the public should be able to go mask-free by the summer due to the vaccine uptake.