Police are warning of the potential threat of violence and disorder in the centre of London during the annual Million Mask March. There are concerns that peaceful protest is the "last thing on the minds" of many of those planning to attend.
The demonstration, organised by hacktivist group Anonymous, is set to take place on 5 November in Trafalgar Square as part of a global day of action to build a "better future through collective action". Similar Million Mask Marches are scheduled to take place in cities across the world on 5 November. The event has been held every year in the UK since 2012.
Thousands of protesters are expected to turn up to this year's event, with police imposing strict conditions for those wishing to take part as the march has become synonymous with "anti-social behaviour, criminal damage... and attacks on police officers" over the years.
These include the power to remove facial coverings – such as the Guy Fawkes masks which are a symbol of the Anonymous movement - if police anticipate there may be criminal offences committed in the area.
Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills, from the Metropolitan Police Service said: "We will always facilitate peaceful protest and have a strong history of doing so. However, over the last few years this event has seen high levels of anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder. This year we have strong reason to believe that peaceful protest is the last thing on the minds of many of the people who will come along.
"Last year hundreds of people on their way home from work, or out enjoying an evening in the Capital, were surrounded by people causing them huge concern. Buses were physically rocked, people jumped on car bonnets, as well as serious disorder in central London and damage to a number of buildings."
Police have also imposed restrictions on where people can assemble in the centre of London and how long the march is allowed to take place before it must disperse.
Static protests must only take place in Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square Gardens and within the barriers on the East Footway of Whitehall, opposite Downing Street. The march must also stay within a certain area in central London between Trafalgar Square, Victoria Embankment, Millbank, up to junction with Great Peter Street, Broad Sanctuary, Parliament Square and Whitehall. The march must not commence before 6pm and continue no later than 9pm.
A Met Police spokesperson added the protest has been difficult to control down the years at the event has "no identified organiser, no identified route and no objective".
The march's organisers said via Facebook: "This 5 November, the Anonymous UK collective will again descend on central London.
"We have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government, and governments before it, we have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear, we have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state, we have seen the government's disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the handicapped, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough.
"We invite all the activists, the workers, the students, all doctors, nurses and all those that want to see a positive change in the world, to join us, in Trafalgar Square from 6pm, 5 November. The government and the 1% have played their hand, now it is time to play ours."