'Anti-vax' demo slammed by Tower Hamlets councillor for diverting police from crime victim
- Credit: Andrew Wood
Protesters trying to storm the Canary Wharf HQ of the government agency that approves coronavirus vaccines have been slammed by a Tower Hamlets councillor for police having to be switched from front-line duties.
A domestic crime victim on the Isle of Dogs couldn't get help because officers had been diverted waiting for the uncoordinated demo, the councillor claims.
Protesters kept police guessing rather than co-ordinate with Scotland Yard which led to resources being tied up in a waiting game for several days.
Demos broke out spontaneously across London beginning with the violent clash at Canary Wharf where protesters tried to storm the offices of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in Cabot Square.
“This protest group didn’t tell police in advance," Cllr Andrew Wood told the East London Advertiser. "Nor did Extinction Rebellion who turned up for an earlier demonstration.
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"It wasted resources with police just sitting around day after day waiting."
The lack of protest co-ordination left Cllr Wood furious because a victim of domestic violence couldn't get police help during the week which had been diverted to wait for the expected storming at any moment.
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"She was waiting for officers from the Isle of Dogs police station," Cllr Wood said. "But they didn’t come. The officers were diverted to deal with the expected protest without knowing when. It wasted police time."
Scotland Yard was tipped off about the medicines agency storming attempt and deployed officers in vans in side streets during the week, but didn't know when.
It followed protests by Extinction Rebellion outside Barclays in Canary Wharf and JP Morgan in the City during the week.
"I support peaceful protest," Cllr Wood added. "But you have to co-ordinate with the police. The demo at the medicines agency turned violent and blocked the road. It's quite important for buses to get through, which are a vital service in the community."
Social media footage showed police holding crowds back from the medicines agency entrance in Cabot Square.
The 200-strong crowd then headed off towards South Colonnade to the offices of The Economist business magazine where security officers and police were on alert and waiting. Everything was closed down.
Crowds eventually disbursed and made for the Underground station and on to other demos across London including the Science Museum in South Kensington.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick later tweeted: "Everyone has the right to protest, we understand that. But other people have the right to do their day-to-day business. We have been working to reduce the serious disruption they tried to cause."
Police made 10 arrests, Scotland Yard confirmed. Four officers were injured.