THE police officers who were injured in Chingford last night were hit by a looter's car which was trying to flee the scene, according to witnesses.

The three officers were hurt as they attempted to arrest youths outside Aristocrat clothes store in Chingford Mount Road at around 12.45am this morning (Monday August 8).

Two were taken to hospital, one with superficial injuries and the other with a knee injury. They have now been discharged.

The incident happened after a gang of between 10 to 20 people looted dozens of items from the Aristocrat shop.

Nearby Morrisons supermarket also had some windows smashed, although it is unclear whether anything was stolen.

And there are also unconfirmed reports that attempts were made to break in to businesses on the Hall Lane estate including technology store Currys and bike shop Halfords.

Residents nearby told the Guardian that police arrived before any looting began.

Anna Stanford, 25, witnessed the events unfold outside Aristocrat in Chingford Mount Road from a flat opposite.

She said: "The gang first came down at about half midnight, there were only about eight of them at first but they had their faces covered.

"They smashed the window of Aristocrat and took the stuff on display and ran off quickly.

"Then about an hour later they came back but with more people and started climbing inside. That's when the police arrived.

"They were caught in the act. They all started climbing out of the shop and running everywhere, a lot of them went down Royston Avenue.

"Then this black car came speeding out from there onto Chingford Mount and turned right [heading north]. I didn't see it hit the policeman but the driver was obviously trying to escape being arrested."

She added: "There was a commotion and I saw the policeman lying in the road.

"He was surrounded by lots of officers and was on the floor for quiet a while before he was taken away in an ambulance."

Another resident, a 48-year-old woman who did not want to be named, said: "You could see a lot of the people involved were from gangs. I saw one had a gun.

"I think they all got together and used the riots elsewhere as an opportunity to thieve. It's very unfair on the community and the shopkeepers.

"The police have done a good job though. I know there's some still on shift this afternoon who've been working since 1am."

Police are appealing for witnesses.

A spokesman said: "they [the officers] were driven at, at speed, by a dark coloured Saloon. The car, possibly a Y Reg dark green Volvo S40, hit two officers and left the scene without stopping.

"The officers were taken to hospital, one with minor neck injuries and the other with leg injuries. Both have subsequently been discharged."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh, added: "I'd like to appeal to anyone who was in the area to come forward and help us with our investigations.

"These officers were responding to reports of looting at the nearby shop. They were responding, like the rest of their colleagues last night, to try and protect Londoners and their property.

"The level of violence directed at officers was appalling and officers being, what appears to be, deliberately driven at will no doubt shock the vast majority of Londoners who want to work with us to track these criminals down and bring them to justice."

No arrests have been made in connection with the collision.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police Incident Room on 020 8345 4142 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Click here to view our photo gallery of the damage.

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