A man was arrested in London on Thursday after his car slammed into the heavy gates of Downing Street, which close off the street where the Prime Minister's residence and offices are located, but police do not report any injuries.
An important safety device was put in place after the incident, before traffic was restored at the end of the afternoon.
“At around 4:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. GMT), a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street on Whitehall”, the avenue on which Downing Street opens. "Armed officers arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving," police said in a statement.
"No injuries have been reported. Investigations are ongoing to determine what happened," added the London police.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in Downing Street, according to the BBC. He left after the incident.
BBC footage shows a light-coloured car, traveling at low speed and driving through Whitehall. She then climbs onto the sidewalk and stops after gently hitting the tall black railings.
The latter do not appear to be damaged by the impact.
"I heard a bang and I looked and saw a lot of police with tasers shouting at a man," said Simon Parry, witness to the scene, quoted by the PA agency.
The driver "did not seem upset. He seemed to have had an episode (...). He was not driving fast and it did not look like he wanted to break through the gates", Another passerby Dean Parker, 36, told AFP.
Downing Street is located in the ministerial quarter in London and a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament. Security is always very present, with barriers along the sidewalk at the edge of the street.
Much of Whitehall was closed to traffic and the public, before resuming around 5:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. GMT), the time of day when many civil servants leave their offices in this also touristy area.
The incident "is not currently being treated as having a connection with terrorism", the police said at the end of the afternoon in a new press release, adding that a "light (security) cord remained in place at outside Downing Street".
The gates that close access to the famous street were installed in 1989 for security reasons. Previously, the public could approach on foot the famous black door marking the entrance to the official residence of the Prime Minister and in front of which many of them spoke.
In 1991, during the period of violence in Northern Ireland, the paramilitary group Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched three mortar shells against the residence of then Prime Minister John Major.
The gates, guarded by armed officers, are the first line of security to protect Downing Street. Official cars entering the street are carefully checked before removable poles are lowered to let them in.
25/05/2023 19:36:31 - London (AFP) - © 2023 AFP