An unmarked police car was on its way to a security alert when it collided with another car and smashed into a wall in south Belfast yesterday.
Four police officers and a civilian were taken to hospital after the crash which happened at 7.50am near Donnybrook Street on the Lisburn Road.
It is understood the five people injured suffered minor cuts and bruises. A police spokesman described their injuries as not life-threatening.
Diversions were in place yesterday near the scene of the crash, which is a busy arterial route into the city.
Witnesses said the silver police car had jumped red lights and then hit the wall of a church car park as it swerved to avoid a blue car emerging from Melrose Street.
A pedestrian gate and part of the wall of St Thomas' Parish Church off the Lisburn Road were demolished in the crash, while the wreckage of the vehicle was strewn across the road and footpath.
The Rev Canon Lewis, from St Thomas', said he had been authorised by the police to go ahead with the repairs. The wall, which he said dates back to 1870, had "not been irreparably damaged".
"In the grand scheme of things at least no-one was badly injured," he said.
Rose Maxwell, a shop assistant in the nearby Co-op on the Lisburn Road, described hearing "a big bang" at the time of the crash.
"All I saw was a silver car hitting the wall, then I heard a big bang," she said. "I was serving someone at the time. A blue car was behind the silver car, it seemed to have come out of a side street.
"I don't think the blue car was expecting to see the silver car. There was another car parked outside the shop and someone from it ran across the road and they called for an ambulance. The ambulance came really quickly and then I saw someone being removed from the silver car."
Police revealed the officers had been on their way to reports of a security alert which was later confirmed to be a hoax.
A police spokesman said the collision was being investigated and the Police Ombudsman had been informed.