LONDON: Armed police arrested one man after a car crashed into the gates of the UK prime minister’s Downing Street office and residence in central London on Thursday, Scotland Yard said.

“At around 16:20 (1520 GMT) a car collided with the gates of Downing Street on Whitehall. Armed officers arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving,” police said in a statement.

No injuries were reported and police added that enquiries were ongoing.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was reported by British media to have been in the building when the incident occurred, and left soon after.

Video footage of the incident showed a silver car driving at low speed across Whitehall, where many government ministries are located, having emerged from a pull-in area in front of the Ministry of Defence car park, opposite Downing Street.

It appeared to then mount the footpath and came to a halt after hitting the large metal gates that guard the entrance to Downing Street.

Other footage showed a police cordon surrounding the car, with its boot open.

Simon Parry, 44, said: “I heard a bang and looked up and saw loads of police with taser guns shouting at the man.

“A lot of police vehicles came very quickly and were very quick to evacuate the area.” He added: “There were sniffer dogs and a bomb squad.” Dean Parker, 36, said the driver “didn’t look distressed. He looked like he must have had some sort of episode or something”.

Parker, part of a protest on the opposite side of the street, said the car was not driving fast.

“It doesn’t look like he tried to ram the gates off... It was a pretty slow impact. The police dealt with it pretty professionally and promptly.”

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023

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