ixteen people have been arrested and 22 received fines after a crowd of anti-lockdown protesters marched on south London.
A group of around 30 people took to Clapham High Street on Saturday afternoon chanting “take your freedom back”.
Fellow members of the public responded with fury, with one woman shouting from her car: “There’s a pandemic going on, you t***s.”
The force added that 22 fixed penality notices were also issued.
Dozens of officers were deployed to Clapham Common to try and contain the protest, which was organised by the group StandupX and began shortly after midday.
Bystanders called the maskless protesters “idiots” as they headed east towards Stockwell.
The small group of demonstrators eventually returned to Clapham Common park before being dispersed by police.
NHS England figures showed the number of Covid patients in London hospitals stands at 7,277, up 32 per cent on the previous week.
The Met tweeted: “12 people have been arrested for breaching Covid regs at a protest in #ClaphamCommon for today. All have been taken into custody.
“Others in attendance were dispersed. The policing operation continues. Gathering for the purpose of a protest is not an exemption to the rules & and people looking to attend may face enforcement action.”
At least seven fixed penalty notices were issued by officers during the event, the force added.
Dorset Police chief constable James Vaughan said: “I condemn the actions of these selfish individuals who knowingly flouted the lockdown restrictions to carry out this protest activity.
“Their reckless actions come at a time when our county is facing its highest number of cases since the beginning of this pandemic.”
The group was also involved in a protest in Parliament Square earlier this week in which 21 people were arrested, and its social media accounts called for “thousands” to join the march.
However, an open letter from Scotland Yard said the force was “aware” of groups looking to gather to protest, and strongly advised people not to attend any public meetings.
It read: “The MPS strongly advises people not to attend any gathering, for the protection of yourselves and others.
“We are still in the middle of a global pandemic.”
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The statement added: “Police officers will take appropriate enforcement action where necessary.
“It is your responsibility to check the current position and ensure you are not committing an offence by being involved in a gathering.
“We urge anyone arranging a gathering to inform your local police.”
The force said the public should expect officers to be more “inquisitive” about why they are “out and about” during England’s third national lockdown.
People not wearing masks when they should be “and without good reason” can also expected to be “fined – not reasoned with”.