Police clash with protesters from campaign group

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Hundreds of people attempted to hijack today's main anti-cuts demonstration to wreak havoc in London's West End.

The Met revealed 202 people were arrested for a variety of offences, including public order offences, criminal damage, aggravated trespass and violent disorder.



There were 35 reported injuries over the course of the day, including five police officers.

Sixteen were taken to hospital, including one officer.

Police were attacked as they tried to stop activists smashing their way into banks and shops.



Their action was in stark contrast to and separate from the main TUC rally in Hyde Park which was good natured and passed off peacefully.



Campaign group UK Uncut claimed around 200 of its supporters forced themselves into luxury store Fortnum and Mason - known as the Queen's grocer.



A spokesman for the demonstrators said the target was chosen because "they dodge tens of millions in tax".



Branches of HSBC, RBS, Santander and Topshop were among those to have their windows smashed.



Police spent hours following the mob as they caused damage throughout the UK's busiest shopping district.



Commander Bob Broadhurst, who led the police operation, said: "I wouldn't call them protesters. They are engaging in criminal activities for their own ends."



He added: "We anticipated there would be some problems. We have minimised the damage caused.



"We'll never have enough officers to protect every building in central London. It cannot be done."









Despite the widespread disruption, just nine arrests were made.



Commander Broadhurst said the demonstrators, many of whom were dressed head-to-toe in black and covered their faces, were in small groups and "quite mobile".



"It's been hard to get hold of them," he said.



But he added that video evidence would be used in an attempt to make arrests in the coming days.



Of the nine arrests that were made, four were for using threatening or insulting words or behaviour, three for criminal damage, one for violent disorder and one for going equipped with intent to cause criminal damage.



The protesters surged along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street, chanting "welfare not warfare" as they blocked traffic and forced shops to close.



Paint, fireworks and flares were thrown at buildings, while the outnumbered police were attacked with large pieces of wood.



Scotland Yard said lightbulbs filled with ammonia were also thrown at their officers.



The police often had to step aside as the activists continued their destruction.



Four officers were treated for minor injuries and one was taken to hospital with a groin injury.



The Ritz, a Porsche showroom and a Lloyds TSB branch also suffered damage which continued into the night.



A spokesman for civil liberties group Liberty said: "The demonstration appeared to have been infiltrated by violent elements who periodically separated from the main route in order to attack high profile commercial properties and the police before melting into the demonstration once more.



"This minority presented significant challenges for the police and trade union stewards alike and at times jeopardised both the safety and ability to protest of those with peaceful intent."





Policing minister Nick Herbert said the main TUC rally had been a "testament to the British model of policing" and he condemned the violence in the West End as "completely unacceptable".



"Unfortunately a small minority of individuals were intent on disorder," he said.



"I want to be absolutely clear that the blame for the violence lies squarely and solely with the perpetrators and to express my gratitude to those police officers who put themselves in harm's way.



"This Government has been clear that we are committed to supporting peaceful protest but we are equally clear that violence and destruction of property is completely unacceptable."









Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the behaviour of the rioters had been "criminal and dangerous".



"Today's peaceful demonstrators who marched to protect their families, jobs and services will be appalled and disgusted tonight to see TV pictures of some thugs and idiots who have chosen today to launch violent, criminal attacks against the police and property in central London," she said.



"The mindless violence and criminal damage caused by these people is disgraceful and deserves to be met by the full force of the law."



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy