Extra police officers in protective gear have been dispatched to illegal raves planned around London following “appalling scenes” of violence at a street party in Brixton on Wednesday.
The Met Police said it was targeting further unlicensed music events and block parties around the city after 22 officers were injured on the Angell Town estate in Brixton.
Footage on social media showed police vehicles smashed and officers pelted with bottles during clashes with a large crowd, with Downing Street condemning the scenes as “appalling” and Home Secretary Priti Patel calling the incident “utterly vile”.
The Met said it “will not tolerate the violence we have recently seen in London”, adding specially-trained officers in “enhanced personal protective equipment” would be in place overnight.
#Thread | “The scenes of violence against our officers in Brixton last night were disgraceful and those responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves.”
Chief Supt Wingrove confirms 22 officers were injured as they worked to restore order following the unlicensed music event pic.twitter.com/4ooDyDJwhf
— Lambeth Police (@LambethMPS) June 25, 2020
Met Police Commander Bas Javid said: “We remain in a public health crisis and these unlicensed events are illegal. Our role is to keep our communities safe and this evening people can expect to see a heightened police presence out in areas where we know these events are taking place.
“This is in direct response to concerns expressed by our communities, many of whom were scared and shocked by the events taking place outside their homes.”
He added: “We want to reassure communities that this is as a precautionary measure for the safety of our officers and they will continue to engage with the communities they police.
“These officers are specially trained in public order, and may have teams from the dog support unit with them. We cannot accept the levels of violence that were directed towards our officers last night, and the damage caused to public and private property. Our policing response remains under constant review, and our priority is to keep everyone – including our officers – safe.”
Speaking about the Brixton incident, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These were appalling scenes. Violence against the police will not be tolerated.”
At least 22 police officers were injured, two of whom required hospital treatment, while four people have been arrested for assault and public order offences, the Metropolitan Police said.
But Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, told the PA news agency that nearly 30 of his colleagues were hurt.
Police said officers tried to “encourage the crowd to leave” after police were called to reports of a “large unlicensed music event” in Overton Road on Wednesday night.
“The event continued and more officers attended the scene and the group became hostile towards officers,” a Scotland Yard statement said.
One witness, who did not want to be named, told PA: “After the police backed up, the group of people then forced the police out of the estate, throwing things at the police, smashed up a police car that they abandoned and then it moved more towards the main road.”
In footage posted online a partygoer can be seen bleeding from the face following clashes with others present.
London Ambulance Service said one person was rushed to a major trauma centre, while another was taken to hospital.
15 more colleagues injured in deplorable scenes. Police officers are not punchbags. This violence is despicable. We wish our injured colleagues all well. https://t.co/BhrT5ONNq3
— Met Police Federation (@MPFed) June 25, 2020
Mr Marsh described the incident, which comes after dozens of officers were injured in protests in London in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US, as “absolutely shocking”.
“We are rufty-tufty and can deal with violent disorder but it’s not pleasant and it’s not nice to have to go somewhere where someone wants to try and kill you,” he said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that large gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic are “deeply irresponsible and risk others’ lives”.
“I’m in touch with the Met Police about the completely unacceptable events in Brixton overnight. Violence against the police will not be tolerated,” he added.
These are utterly vile scenes.
Just last weekend, the whole country came together to praise our heroic police officers for putting their own lives on the line to keep us safe.
I'll be picking up with the Met Commissioner immediately. https://t.co/576qcLY89g
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) June 25, 2020
Ms Patel condemned the violence, which came days after a suspected terrorist was tackled to the ground by an unarmed police officer in Reading, Berkshire, on Saturday evening.
“These are utterly vile scenes,” she said.
“Just last weekend, the whole country came together to praise our heroic police officers for putting their own lives on the line to keep us safe.
“I’ll be picking up with the Met Commissioner immediately.”
The Metropolitan Police said the party was finally cleared in the early hours of Thursday, while a Section 60 order, which gives police powers to stop and search without reasonable suspicion, was later put in place in the area.