Over 200 people were in custody Sunday in London after trouble flared following a separate rally where hundreds of thousands protested against the Government’s public spending cuts, police said.
A clean up operation was under way after activists clashed with riot police in Trafalgar Square in the wake of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) rally in Hyde Park which had earlier passed off peacefully.
Between 200 and 300 people gathered at the landmark location late into the night, with some throwing missiles and attempting to damage the Olympic clock within the square.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers had “come under sustained attack” as they tried to deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage, with officers using ‘containment’ tactics in a bid to manage those congregating.
The area was eventually cleared by around 2.45am.
Approximately 214 arrests were made for a variety of offences including: public order offences, criminal damage, aggravated trespass and violent disorder, with people in custody at various London police stations, a force spokesman said.
There were 84 reported injuries during the protests, including at least 31 police, with 11 officers requiring hospital treatment, five of whom were discharged and six were awaiting treatment.
The injuries were described as “relatively minor”, including cuts and bruises, suspected whiplash and a possible broken collar bone.
The earlier peaceful demonstration was hailed a “fantastic success” as people from across the UK marched through central London to a rally where union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the “brutal” cuts in jobs and services.
Organisers estimated between 400,000 and 500,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, council and National Health service workers, other public sector employees, students, pensioners and campaign groups converged on the British capital.
But hundreds of activists not connected with the union protest clashed with police in the West End.
Officers were attacked as they tried to stop demonstrators smashing their way into banks and shops.
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. Branches of HSBC, RBS, Santander banks and Topshop were among those to have their windows smashed.
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, which ran late into the evening. 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”.
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.”
He added that video evidence would be used in an attempt to make arrests in the coming days.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he “bitterly regretted” the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the massive anti-cuts protest.