Violence has broken out in Bristol this evening at the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration opposing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is currently going through Parliament.
The bill includes a range of government proposals, including changes to protests. If passed in its current form, the bill would allow police chiefs to impose a start and finish time on protests, set noise limits and take other tough measures above their current powers.
On Sunday evening, protestors attacked police in Bristol, with a number of officers said to have suffered broken bones, while police vehicles were vandalised and set on fire. A number of windows were smashed, and there was also the use of fireworks and graffiti by protestors.
Avon and Somerset Police described the events, which took place in Bristol City Centre, as ‘significant disorder’. Ch Supt Will White said in a statement;
“What started out as a peaceful protest has been turned by a small minority into a violent disorder. These secnes are absolutely disgraceful and they will be widely condemned by people across the city. There can never be any excuse for wanton disorder”
It was added that support was requested from neighbouring forces to heal deal with the incident.
In a tweet, Home Secretary Priti Patel described the scenes in Bristol as ‘unacceptable’ and said ‘thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated.’
Labour have joined others in condemning the protests, describing them as ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’. Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds MP said “It’s right that anyone involved in these violent scenes should face the consequences of their actions”.
Many have expressed concerns over the bill recently, arguing that it could damage democracy due to the proposed restrictions on the freedom to protest. Before protests on Sunday turned violent, demonstrators were pictured holding placards reading messages such as ‘This bill is a public nuisance’.
The escalation of the protests was largely unexpected and has been described as the worst violence in the city for ‘many, many years’ by the Avon and Somerset Police Federation.