A SMOKE bomb was set off inside a shopping centre during a protest against a new Covid vaccination clinic – causing an evacuation.

The Brighton Centre’s vaccination centre was due to move to the former Topshop store in Churchill Square on Monday, August 30.

As a result of a protest, the new site was closed while the demonstration took place.

Police said demonstrators started to gather at 9.35am, with about 80 protesters gathered on private land by midday.

“Police were made aware of a planned protest,” a spokesman said.

“Officers and PCSOs attended to engage with protesters and facilitate a peaceful demonstration while minimising disruption for members of the public.

“The protest moved to public land in Russell Place, opposite Churchill Square, and continued until 5.50pm.”

Sussex Police said a device, believed to be a smoke bomb, was set off inside the shopping centre at 1.35pm.

The Argus: A smoke bomb was set off in Churchill Square during a protest about the new Covid vaccine centre in Brighton A smoke bomb was set off in Churchill Square during a protest about the new Covid vaccine centre in Brighton

Footage taken by Lucas Foganholo shows orange smoke engulfing the shopping centre after a flare appeared to have been placed inside a bin.

In the video, members of the public can be heard saying: “You’ve set off the fire alarm and evacuated the shoppers.”

Shopping centre staff can be seen attempting to retrieve the smoke bomb from a bin as orange smoke bellows into the air.

Police confirmed that no arrests were made, but police enquiries are ongoing.

Chief superintendent Justin Burtenshaw said: "We recognise the public's right to protest and our officers will work with organisers to ensure the safety of demonstrators and the general public, as well as to minimise disruption.

"Enquiries are currently ongoing into Monday's demonstration, particularly around the circumstances that led to what is believed to be a smoke bomb being set off. 

"We would encourage anybody who has any information which could help with the investigation to contact police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 048 of 30/08."

The NHS took the decision to temporarily close the vaccination centre shortly afterwards, the police added.

The Sussex Community NHS asked those with vaccination appointments at the new centre at Churchill Square not to attend on Monday.

“Due to disruption at Churchill Square our vaccination centre had to close for a few hours on Monday, 30 August,” a spokeswoman said.

The Argus: Protest about the new Covid vaccine centre in Brighton Protest about the new Covid vaccine centre in Brighton

“Doors opened again just after 4pm with our teams working hard to see everyone who had booked an appointment, as well as people who wanted walk-in appointments.”

The former Topshop store has taken over from the Brighton Centre as the trust’s largest Covid-19 vaccination hub.

The Brighton Centre site opened in January, delivering up to 3,000 vaccinations a day during peak demand.

It was staffed by more than 150 SCFT workers and over 100 volunteers, every day since.

The team has delivered a total of over 250,000 first and second dose vaccinations at the centre.