Police in London have told those planning on joining Black Lives Matter demonstrations that they must be off the streets by 5pm on Saturday.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent clashes with police, protesters have been told they must stick to the planned route that will run from Hyde Park to Whitehall.

The force fear the anti-racism protests – that were sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US last month – could be hijacked by counter-demonstrations by far-right groups.

READ MORE:  Kevin McKenna: If black lives really matter we need to go beyond knocking down a few old statues

The 46-year-old African American died after a police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25, provoking riots in many US cities and demonstrations across the world.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said protesters who do not leave demonstrations after 5pm on Saturday risk being arrested.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Khan said: “The police can arrest, detain and charge, ultimately if you breach the conditions,” he said, adding that this included people who were protest peacefully.

Those affiliated to the Black Lives Matter protests must remain north of a police barrier erected on Whitehall, while far-right protesters must remain to the south of the line.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has pleaded with the public on Twitter not to attend the protests, writing: “We are in the grip of an unprecedented national health emergency.

“This severe public health risk forces me to continue to urge people not to attend protests this weekend.

“Gathering in large numbers at this exceptional time is illegal. Doing so puts everyone’s lives at risk.”

Organisers of one demonstration planned for Saturday cancelled the event over fears of conflict with far-right protesters, but the Met think thousands of people will still attend.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Sturgeon urges UK Government to extend furlough scheme 

The conditions were set under section 12 of the Public Order Act.

On Friday, statues in Parliament Square including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were boarded up to prevent them being targeted by either side.

Last week, the statue of the UK’s war-time prime minister memorial was defaced with the words “was a racist”.

Met Commander Bas Javid, brother of former chancellor Sajid, said he understood the depth of feeling of protesters, but asked people not to come to London while shutdown rules are still in force.

“If you were planning to come to London, I again would urge you to reconsider, but if you are still intent, please familiarise yourself with what the conditions are,” he said.

“Please keep yourself safe by complying with government guidance on social distancing.”

Black Lives Matter protestsWorkers take down a statue of slave owner Robert Milligan at West India Quay (Yui Mok/PA)

Anti-racism group Hope Not Hate has said football gangs from West Ham, Chelsea, Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and Spurs are among the groups planning on coming to London.

Far right group Britain First has also said its members will attend.

On Friday, Boris Johnson expressed his dismay at the growing focus on removing statues in the wake of the toppling of the memorial to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on June 7.

More than 60 other statues are now listed as targets on a website called Topple the Racists.

The Prime Minister said to take statues down would “be to lie about our history”.

Mr Johnson, in a series of social media posts, said: “We cannot pretend to have a different history.

“Those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults.”

Protesters pull down a statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in College Green, BristolProtesters pull down a statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in College Green, Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)

Meanwhile, Bristol-based organisation the Society of Merchant Venturers, has come out in support of the removal of Colston’s statue.

The society has been accused of blocking previous attempts to have the statue removed or the plaque amended to include details of Colston’s role in the slave trade.

It said on Friday: “To build a city where racism and inequality no longer exist, we must start by acknowledging Bristol’s dark past and removing statues, portraits and names that memorialise a man who benefited from trading in human lives.”

It apologised for interfering in attempts to reword Colston’s plaque in 2018, adding: “As we look forward, we are examining our own role within the city, how we collaborate with others and accelerate our part in ensuring that Bristol overcomes inequality and disadvantage wherever it exists.”