London’s Metropolitan Police arrested a man on Thursday after he drove a car into security gates protecting Downing Street, where UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have their official residences.
The incident occurred around 4:20 p.m. Police said there were no injuries. “Armed police arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal mischief and dangerous driving,” the Met said.
Asked if the incident was being treated as potentially related to terrorism, the Met said: “Investigations are ongoing.” Sunak was in his Downing Street office at the time.
Images taken at the scene showed a handcuffed middle-aged white man being led away by officers.
Whitehall, the main thoroughfare that runs down Downing Street from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, has been cordoned off. People flocked to the barricades, behind which was a heavy police presence, including officers with sniffer dogs.
Images of the car, a silver Kia, moments earlier showed it on the opposite side of Whitehall from Downing Street, opposite the Ministry of Defense, heading towards Parliament Square. It then took off and crossed the road at low speed then slowed again as it approached Downing Street before coming to a stop in front of the tall wrought iron gates.
A witness told the BBC he saw police officers with Tasers pointing at a man who was lying face down on the pavement. He was subsequently arrested and taken off the scene by police officers.
Within an hour of the incident, the police lifted the security cordon and traffic once again flowed freely beyond Downing Street.
There were no early indications that Thursday’s collision was related to terrorism. After the initial flurry of security activity, pedestrians were allowed to walk freely on the other side of Whitehall, which security sources said was a good indication of the lack of a broader threat.
The most recent terror-related incident at the UK’s seat of government was in 2017 when Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old Briton, drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a police officer outside parliament.