Author: Harriet Agerholm
Clashes between immigration officers and protesting crowds in London’s Chinatown led to an elderly woman being taken to hospital.
The woman was filmed as she lay down in front of an immigration van as crowds gathered, purportedly to demonstrate against the arrest of her relative.
An eyewitness told The Independent her arm was struck by the vehicle, although the Home Office later said she was only taken to hospital as a “precautionary measure” and was not injured.
The video also captured distressed people screaming and crying, while some kick the vehicle and bang on its bonnet near the Joy Luck Restaurant.
One officer yelled at the crowd to “stop it” and threatened to arrest those obstructing the van. The enforcement officers then called for police back up.
As the woman lay in the road, the van can be seen driving towards her, before officers push the front of the vehicle away from her.
The Home Office said four men – all Chinese nationals – were arrested after they were found to have overstayed their visas. They have been detained pending their removal from the UK, it said.
A fifth man who immigration officials believe entered the country illegally was also arrested. He was bailed and must report regularly to the Home Office.
Businesses in the area complain they are “aggressively targeted” by immigration enforcement and the local community is being discriminated against.
Joy Luck Restaurant was issued with a notice that warns it will be fined up to £20,000 per illegal worker unless the eatery can demonstrate it checked employees’ right-to-work.
A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement: “Following an intelligence-led visit to a business in Gerrard Street, London, yesterday evening, immigration enforcement officers requested assistance from the Metropolitan Police Service during a disturbance involving members of the public. Police attended but did not make any arrests”.
They added: “No officers or members of the public were harmed during the incident. One woman was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, but was not found to be injured.”