COVID-19: More than 150 arrests as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in London

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More than 150 people have been arrested as anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in central London.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the city near Oxford Street chanting "freedom" on Saturday, with some carrying placards reading "stop controlling us" and "no more lockdowns".

The Metropolitan Police said a total of 155 arrests were made for suspected offences including assaulting an officer, breaching coronavirus regulations and possession of drugs.

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell said it was a "challenging day" and urged the protesters to return home.

"On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London," he added.

"Today's enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.

"Our policing plan will continue well into the evening and I would urge anyone who hasn't already dispersed to go home.

"By doing so, you can avoid ending up facing enforcement action and help protect yourself and others during this health crisis."

The protests came on the day another 479 coronavirus deaths in the UK were announced, taking the total to 58,030.

Sky News reporter Ivor Bennett, who was at the scene of the demonstrations, said there were "quite violent, aggressive clashes" between police and some protesters.

"People were letting off flares, there was red smoke and green smoke," he said.

"Police were trying to kettle the protesters in one place and break up the big group."

Groups of helmeted police were seen running to respond to protesters at Oxford Circus, Carnaby Street and Regent Street.

Traffic was temporarily blocked on Regent Street as police attempted to handcuff people on the ground in the middle of the road.

Police action was met with booing and chants of "shame on you" as demonstrators - many not wearing face masks - ignored requests to go home.

Other signs carried by protesters read "ditch the face masks" and "no to mandatory masks".

The Metropolitan Police said three people were arrested for allegedly breaching coronavirus restrictions at King's Cross station ahead of the demonstration.

People were also led away in handcuffs during the protest in Hyde Park.

The Met Police had urged people not to attend protests this weekend and warned those who attend risk enforcement action by officers.

Protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under current coronavirus regulations in England, the force said.

Responding to the demonstrations, Home Secretary Priti Patel said those involved have been "protesting for many months, and we've seen this over successive weekends".

She added: "We ask everybody to be conscientious - we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths."