7:34 PM on 26th March 2011 Hooded anarchists throw paint and set off flares on Oxford Street Police targeted with missiles and light bulbs filled with ammonia Windows at The Ritz smashed as masked youths run wild Anti-capitalist smash banks and cash points in city centre rampage Five police officers injured in clashes, one seriously Labour leader Ed Miliband likens protest to anti-apartheid movement Anarchists today broke away from one of the largest protests Britain has ever seen to bring chaos to the streets of London. The Ritz hotel and Fortnum & Mason were among the buildings targeted in the capital after groups of rampaging youths intent on spreading havoc left the mass anti-cuts demonstration. Around 500,000 activists and campaigners descended on London this morning to protest at the Government's drastic cuts programme. But while the main march and rally in Hyde Park, which was addressed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, remained peaceful, splinter groups of anarchists went wild. Scroll down for our video report Chaos: A protester smashing windows at The Ritz in London today Civil disobedience: Demonstrators throw a road sign at a window of the Ritz Hotel Street fighting: Hooded protesters, left, continue their attack on the Ritz hotel with bins, while a police officer, right, finds himself in the firing line of flare throwing anarchists Hundreds of activists - many wearing masks and hoods - disrupted traffic, set off fireworks and flares in the busiest areas of the city including Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Regent Street. Lightbulbs filled with ammonia and paintbombs were thrown at police as they desperately tried to keep the peace. Topshop and HSBC had their windows smashed, while paint and glass bottles were thrown at a Royal Bank of Scotland branch. The marauders also attacked The Ritz near Green Park, where they smashed windows with bins and road signs. UK Uncut, an anti-cuts direct action group, later occupied the Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, claiming the firm had 'dodged' paying taxes. Nine arrests were made and some police officers were injured. Uncut: Protesters occupy Fortnum and Mason's on Piccadilly in central London Rage: UK Uncut protesters targeted Fortnum and Mason's, which they accuse of tax evasion A policeman splashed with paint in Oxford Street during the anti-cuts protest Officers clashing with demonstrators in Oxford Street Topshop's flagship store was paintbombed The event, organised by the TUC, is believed to be the largest march since up to a million took to the streets in 2003 to oppose the war in Iraq. By 3pm, estimated participation was at 500,000. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he 'bitterly regretted' the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the massive anti-cuts protest. 'I dont think the activities of a few hundred people should take the focus away from the hundreds of thousands of people who have sent a powerful message to the Government today,' he said. 'Ministers should now seriously reconsider their whole strategy after todays demonstration. This has been Middle Britain speaking.' Mr Barber said unions would now step up pressure on the Government, especially MPs in their constituencies, and launch a series of protests next week in defence of the NHS. London Ambulance Service said 30 people were treated for injuries throughout the day, 11 of whom were taken to hospital, ranging from assault to collapsing with illness. Commander Bob Broadhurst said: 'The main march has gone very well. Their estimates are 250,000 - maybe more - have come to central London and protested peacefully. That has gone as we expected. 'Unfortunately, we have had over 500 criminals effectively attacking premises in the Oxford Circus area, causing damage. 'We anticipated there would be some problems. We have minimised the damage caused. Well never have enough officers to protect every building in central London. it cannot be done. 'The actual march has gone according to plan. Those damaging buildings have had nothing to do with the TUC.' Activists threw flares at shops on Oxford Street Melee: Police clash with anarchist protesters in the centre of London HSBC (above) and the Royal Bank of Scotland were targeted Criminal damage: A masked protestor attempts to smash a window after breaking into a HSBC bank branch in Cambridge Circus Battle: Police try to defend an HSBC branch after anti-capitalist protesters try to smash their way in with a wheelie bin Wrestle: A police officer has an activist in his grip and then pushes him to the floor. The man in the brown hooded top appeared to be an undercover officer pushing people away from his colleague Mr Miliband defied calls to stay away in case the protest descended into anarchy and attempted to use the occasion to argue that his party offered an 'alternative'. 'This is the big society': Labour leader Ed Miliband told trade unionists he supported their struggle The Labour leader described the gathering as 'extraordinary' and declared himself 'profoundly moved'. He even likened the action to the anti-apartheid movement. 'We come in the tradition of movements that have marched in peaceful but powerful protest for justice, fairness and political change,' he said. 'The suffragettes who fought for votes for women and won. The civil rights movement in America that fought against racism and won. 'The anti apartheid movement that fought the horror of that system and won. The cause may be different but in coming together today to realise our voice, we are standing on the shoulders of those who have marched and struggled for great causes in the past. 'Our struggle is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish because they represent the best of the country we love. We know what the government will say: that this is a march of the minority. They are so wrong.' He added: 'David Cameron: you wanted to create the big society. This is the big society. The big society united against what your government is doing to our country. We stand today not as the minority, but as the voice of the mainstream majority in this country.' Black bloc: An anarchist protester throws a yellow smoke bomb at police A protestor holds a smoke flare during clashes with police Protesters attacked a police van with metal bars The demonstration was divided between chaos and peaceful action, with nurses, midwives, Gurkhas and teachers all on the streets. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said the turnout was 'absolutely enormous and showed the anger of ordinary working people at the Government's cuts'. As police fought with the violent fringe, the main group of marchers demonstrated peacefully and walked along the planned route without conflict. Steel bands, choirs, performers and dancers performed while the mass of people, many with their children in tow, blew horns and whistles as they passed alongside Parliament. Mass movement: The Trades Union Congress organised the march to Hyde Park, before holding a rally Protesters of all ages joined the march across London as Scotland yard put 4,500 police officers on the streets Carnival atmosphere: Despite violent clashes with police, many youths maintained a good humour Demonstrators walk by Big Ben in central London during the protest dubbed the 'March for the Alternative' Alternative: Labour leader Ed Miliband MP addresses thousands at the TUC Rally in Hyde Park Earlier, Education Secretary Michael Gove acknowledged the public concerns about the planned cuts, but insisted that the Government would not be deflected from its strategy. 'Of course people will feel a sense of disquiet, in some cases anger, at what they see happening, but the difficulty we have as the Government inheriting a terrible economic mess, is that we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance,' he said. Activists' websites had shown how they organised a 'huge explosion of class hatred and anger, specifically targeting banks and shops on Oxford Street. Trade union leaders, who put on 600 coaches and nine trains to ferry protesters to the capital, insisted they only wanted a safe, well-stewarded and family-friendly event But Len McCluskey, leader of the countrys biggest union, ramped up the rhetoric, saying anger towards cuts in public spending needs to find a release. Scotland Yard have 4,500 officers on the streets and have warned they will use controversial 'kettling' techniques where necessary.