POLICE last night condemned the "outrageous and increasing levels of violence" as protesters went on the rampage across London after MPs had voted to allow tuition fees to be trebled.
Demonstrators targeted a car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, smashed up windows in Oxford and Regent Street and clashed with police in what Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson described as a "very disappointing day for London."
Almost 50 people were injured in the violence – including 10 police officers , six of whom needed hospital treatment.
Altogether 15 people were arrested: eight for violent disorder, two for arson, two for assault on police, one for criminal damage, one for being drunk and disorderly and one for theft.
As MPs debated the tuition fee hike protesters hurled flares and snooker balls at police and targeted the statue of Sir Winston Churchill – which was daubed with obscene graffiti.
One police officer was knocked out and suffered a neck injury while another was treated for leg injuries after being pulled from his horse in Parliament Square, where students also created a bonfire out of wooden benches.
As scuffles continued to break out, police began using the controversial tactic of "kettling" protesters. Earlier, students had marched from universities and colleges across London, converging at Trafalgar Square before heading on to Parliament.
The crowd was mainly made up of students, but lecturers, parents and other members of the public also joined the throng.
Yesterday's violence followed three days of national action in the past month with protesters clashing with police on the streets of the capital on each occasion.
Superintendent Julia Pendry said: "The Met is extremely disappointed with the behaviour of protesters. It is absolutely obvious that people have come to London with the intention of committing violent disorder, not coming for peaceful protest.
"That can be proved by the fact they have deviated from the agreed route. "There has been a continued unprovoked attack by protesters," she added.
She said the violence had forced police to use containment tactics.
Sir Paul added; "While I'm sure the vast majority came here to want to protest peacefully, a significant number of people behaved very badly."