Thames Valley Police admit to being caught off guard during anti-vax protests in Milton Keynes

On Wednesday afternoon (29/12), a large number of protestors stormed the Central Milton Keynes coronavirus testing centre and then went on to disrupt a pantomime at the Milton Keynes Theatre. 

The protests are believed to have been against Covid-19 restrictions, with dozens of people were seen in the video holding anti-vaccine placards and shouting anti-vaccine slogans.

Milton Keynes Theatre staff 'frightened and assaulted' as protesters forced their way into venue and Thames Valley Police have released an appeal for information in connection with a theft investigation after vital equipment was taken from the test centre.

MKFM has watched hours of video footage from the events on Wednesday in Central Milton Keynes and couldn't find any footage showing a police response at the scene.

One post on Twitter appears to show officers sitting in an unmarked car watching protesters leave the test centre.

MKFM reached out to Thames Valley Police to find out what police resources were in place for the protests that took place. TVP have stated that resources were allocated to this protest and officers did respond, however this response was not captured in any footage.

Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, has said that 'the numbers were significantly higher than expected'.

The statement that was sent to us, was released by Matthew Barber on Thursday 30th December, it reads: “Despite the impression given by some of the footage circulated, police resources had been allocated to police the protest, however the numbers were significantly higher than expected.

"I spoke to the Gold commander on duty yesterday afternoon, to understand the initial response and have spoken to the Chief Constable about the incident.

"A review is being undertaken to consider any intelligence gaps and to look at the escalation by officers on the scene. Less than 24 hours after the incident, it is too soon to come to final conclusions, but it does appear that, although there was activity by the police to contain the protest that is not shown on the footage, the scale of the  protest and the target of the testing site was not anticipated and therefore not adequately responded to.

“Thames Valley have an excellent reputation for managing protests across the Force, and enabling the right to peaceful protest is an important principle of British policing. The incident yesterday [29/12] went beyond that, however, and it leaves many with the impression that the initial policing response was not adequate. This will be reviewed to ensure that lessons can be learnt for the future.

“In addition there will be a specific review of forthcoming protests in the coming weeks, and of plans around other testing and vaccination sites across Thames Valley.”

MKFM understands that police resources are likely to be stretched due to the current covid situation and heavy police presence at Atesh following the murder on Boxing Day.

An investigation into the protests is ongoing and no arrests have been made at this time.

If you have any photo or video footage from the protests that took place on Wednesday 29th December, please email them to news@mkfm.com.

READ MORE: Image released in connection with theft investigation at Milton Keynes test site