The safety of hundreds of people in the Epping Walk of Witness was threatened when a “reckless” driver drove straight through the procession.

Record numbers took part in the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness, following the wooden cross as it was carried along Epping High Steet, from the water fountain to the green.

However, the event was disrupted when a blue Citroen people carrier drove straight through the procession, endangering the safety of over 200 participants.  

A steward, Phil Collins said: “I didn’t see the car come out of the back of the procession, it frightened the life out of me, when I turned round and saw it. The driver was told politely to wait but he drove off and could have knocked me over.

“He wasn’t a young chap either; he looked about 60, so he should have known better really. It was inconsiderate and reckless.”

The High Street was only closed for around 10 minutes for the procession to pass, whilst the majority of drivers waited patiently, this particular driver paid no attention to warnings to stop.

Local minister and one of the organisers, Rev. Paul Walker said: “The stewards in high visibility vests were ignored and families, children and pensioners had to rush aside as the car drove through.

“The speed he was going meant I dread to think what would have happened if a child had stepped out.”

Due to local cut backs the police are no longer able to oversee the parade and with only three PCSO’s on duty, did not enough staff to cover the event.

A similar incident occurred three years ago when a young man driving a GTI raced through the procession.  On this occasion there was also no police presence, only public stewarding.

Sergeant Russell Welch said: “Police have not provided officers to specifically patrol the procession for the last two years as dedicating resources to a peaceful march of this type is not a force priority.  The organisers are aware of this and have indicated to police that they would provide their own stewarding.”

Nobody is believed to have been injured and police are currently investigating the incident.