Man arrested after car collides with Downing Street gates, not terror-related say police

Police officers work at the site where a car crashed into the front gates of Downing Street in London, Britain, May 25, 2023. (Reuters)
Police officers work at the site where a car crashed into the front gates of Downing Street in London, Britain, May 25, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 May 2023
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Man arrested after car collides with Downing Street gates, not terror-related say police

Police officers work at the site where a car crashed into the front gates of Downing Street in London, Britain, May 25, 2023.
  • Police said a man was arrested Thursday at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving
  • Video footage posted on social media showed a white car with its trunk open up against the tall metal gates

LONDON: A car crashed into the gates on Thursday of Downing Street in central London, where the British prime minister’s home and offices are located.

No one was injured and police said they were not treating the incident as terror-related. The Metropolitan Police said they arrested a man on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving, and local officers, rather than counterterrorism detectives, were handling the investigation.

They added that enquiries were ongoing.

“A small cordon remains in place outside Downing Street after a car collided with the gates earlier this afternoon,” a Metropolitan Police Service Westminster statement said. “The incident is being dealt with by local officers in Westminster and isn’t currently being treated as terror-related,” it added.

“At around 16:20, 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. There are no reports of any injuries. Enquiries are ongoing.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in his office at the time of the crash, but according to reports he left soon after the incident.

It was not immediately clear whether the crash was deliberate. Video footage posted on social media showed a silver hatchback car heading straight for the gates at low speed across Whitehall.

The road outside Downing Street reopened to traffic soon afterwards and the police cordon was removed, and around 19:45 local time the car was loaded onto a police recovery vehicle and removed.

“I heard a bang and looked up and saw loads of police with taser guns shouting at the man,” said witness Simon Parry, 44. “A lot of police vehicles came very quickly and were very quick to evacuate the area.”

Dean Parker said the driver “didn't look distressed,” and that he looked like he “must have had some sort of episode or something.”

He continued: “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.”

A car transporter arrived to take the vehicle away about two hours after the incident.

Officers cordoned off a wide area of London’s government district, but lifted the barriers less than two hours after the collision took place, allowing people back into Whitehall.

* With AP and AFP