One of London's most controversial exhibitions is coming to the Excel Centre.

Activists have already gathered in Docklands to protest against the DSEI conference, in which arms dealers will rub shoulders with representatives from countries around the world.

The event, which runs from September 15-18, will feature exhibits showcasing the latest military weapons and technology to potential buyers.

Dozens of activists attended a demonstration outside the east gates of the Excel on Monday, September 7, more than a week before the exhibition is due to start.

A two-hour stand-off took place between demonstrators and police while a lorry carrying an armoured vehicle was blockaded outside the entrance.

Supporter of the Occupy Democracy movement Simon Freeman, who took part in the protests, said: “We are interested in the idea that people should come before profits.

“In our country, profit seems to come before everything else that benefits the other 99% of us, and we are against the idea of selling weapons to different countries.

“We live in a time when we need a million climate change-related jobs and these weapons companies have the technology to help. We need to move people to a more humane way of life than this.”

A spokesman for DSEI said: “DSEI fully respects the rights of all individuals and groups to engage in lawful protest, and we have always accommodated a number of such groups that wish to make their views known to our attendees in a peaceful manner - this year is no different.

“DSEI is one of an ever-increasing number of large international events taking place throughout the year at ExCeL, and DSEI does not impact on the local area differently to these. Furthermore, this edition of DSEI is estimated to directly benefit the local economy by over £30 million.

“DSEI will also play host to a series of innovative and thought-leading strategic conferences. This year will feature a conference on the lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic. The conferences will also explore a range of other issues including the future of UK cryptography and encryption, and the relevance of the Government’s apprenticeship programme to the defence and security sector industry.”

The conference is being supported by the British Army. In a statement on the exhibition’s website Lt Gen Mark Poffley said: “Recent events have highlighted the need for an integrated and persistent security response across a wide spectrum of operations. The British Army is reconfiguring to meet the challenges of the contemporary security environment.

“An important part of this adjustment is establishing a close relationship with its industrial partners, seeking out innovative and relevant solutions as part of the DGP and exploiting mutually beneficial agendas to defeat those who threaten our security.”