Man arrested after car crashes into Downing Street gatesPolice do not suspect a terrorist attack


LONDON—A car crashed into the gates of Downing Street in central London, home to the British Prime Minister’s home and office, on Thursday, sparking a swift and intensive security effort at one of London’s most fortified sites. .

No one was injured and police said they were not treating the incident as terrorism-related. Police arrested the man on suspicion of causing bodily harm and dangerous driving, and the investigation was conducted by a local police officer rather than a counter-terrorism detective.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in his office at the time of the crash, which brought back memories of the attack on London’s government district.

It was not immediately clear whether the crash was intentional. Video footage posted on social media showed the silver hatchback driving slowly down Whitehall, the main thoroughfare of London’s government district, straight to the gate.

Witness Simon Parry, 44, said: “I heard a bang, looked up and saw a bunch of police with tasers yelling at the man. They came immediately and immediately evacuated the area.”

The BBC aired a photo of police taking a man with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

Footage captured shortly afterward showed the car with its trunk open as it slammed into a tall metal gate. Several police officers carefully searched the vehicle, removing items from the trunk and interior of the vehicle and placing them in evidence bags.

About two hours after the accident, a car carrier arrived and picked up the vehicle.

Police sealed off large swaths of London’s government district but lifted the blockade less than two hours after the clashes broke out, allowing people to return to Whitehall. The street is usually busy with government officials and tourists looking to see the nearby Parliament House and other historic buildings.

london police
Police at the scene after a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street in London on May 25, 2023. (James Manning/Pennsylvania, via AP)

“A small cordon remains in place outside Downing Street after a car crashed into the gate earlier this afternoon,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “The incident was being handled by Westminster local police and is no longer being treated as terrorism-related.”

Downing Street is a narrow street lined with Georgian houses, including the prime minister’s residence at number 10.

Public access to the street is restricted and heavy iron gates are constantly guarded by armed police. Bollards and metal crowd barriers also help keep threats at bay.

The gate was built in 1989 in response to the threat of Irish Republican Army (IRA) militants. In 1991, the IRA fired three mortars into the streets, one of which exploded in the backyard of Number 10 while Prime Minister John Major was leading a Cabinet meeting indoors. Three police officers and one civil servant were slightly injured.

The area was targeted in 2017 when militants inspired by the ISIS terror group killed four people in a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, then stabbed a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament.

Seats of power around the world often provoke protests and sometimes violent attacks. The incident comes three days after a man crashed a rental truck into a security fence outside the White House in Washington, got out of the car and started waving a Nazi flag. Sai Varshit Kandura, 19, has been charged with damaging US property.

By Jill Lawless, Sylvia Hoy