Police arrest 14 after second night of 'Kill the Bill' clashes with riot officers in Bristol

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·5-min read

Watch: Police move in to disperse latest 'Kill the Bill' protest in Bristol

Police arrested 14 people overnight following a second night of protests in Bristol over a controversial new government bill.

Specially trained public-order officers from Avon and Somerset Police, British Transport Police, and Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Welsh forces were deployed on Tuesday night to College Green, where police said around 130 people had gathered earlier in the evening.

It came after a protest in Bristol turned violent on Sunday night, leaving two officers seriously injured. Nine people have been arrested so far over Sunday's protest.

A YouTube livestream appearing to be from Tuesday's demonstration showed large numbers of police with some officers on horseback and others with dogs.

Shouts of “Our streets” and “Shame on you” could be heard.

Police made several arrests following another night of protests in Bristol. (SWNS)
Police made several arrests following another night of protests in Bristol. (SWNS)
Police and protesters at College Green in Bristol where police said around 130 people had gathered earlier in the evening. Picture date: Tuesday March 23, 2021.
Police and protesters at College Green in Bristol where police said around 130 people had gathered earlier in the evening. (PA)

Avon and Somerset Police tweeted at about 2.40am that the protest “has now concluded after officers enforced COVID-19 legislation”.

A force statement said 14 people were arrested for offences including breaches of COVID legislation and obstruction of a highway, with one arrest in connection with Sunday’s violent disorder. 

It was the latest “Kill the Bill” protest in the city against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give the police new powers to tackle demonstrations.

Shortly before 11pm, police said protesters had been moved off College Green but that a “significant number” remained on Deanery Road “and continue to refuse to leave the area”.

The force tweeted: “Officers will take proportionate action to disperse crowds. They are not containing anyone and we continue to urge people to move on.”

Around 90 minutes later, police reminded the public that gatherings were not permitted, adding that demonstrators “risk spreading the virus further”.

“It’s disappointing we needed to take this action on a day we remember those who’ve lost their lives,” the force added, referring to the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

Commenting on another night of protests, John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said his colleagues in Bristol feel “under siege”.

Police and protesters in Bristol face each other during a second night of demonstrations. (SWNS)
Police and protesters in Bristol face each other during a second night of demonstrations. (SWNS)
Specially trained public order officers from Avon and Somerset Police, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Welsh forces were deployed. (SWNS)
Specially trained public order officers from Avon and Somerset Police, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Welsh forces were deployed. (SWNS)

He told BBC Breakfast: “I really feel for my colleagues in Bristol. There is a sense that you really feel under siege. And for some, whatever they do, is not enough and for others, it’s too much.”

Apter said the latest protests, which took place one year after the first lockdown was announced, came “on an evening where the vast majority of the country were remembering those many thousands of people who have been lost to this horrible virus”.

He said colleagues were “battered and bruised, in some cases physically” and described the scenes as “completely unacceptable”.

Home secretary Priti Patel also criticised the “criminality and violent behaviour” during the most recent protests.

John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said his colleagues in Bristol feel 'under siege'. (SWNS)
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said his colleagues in Bristol feel 'under siege'. (SWNS)
Avon and Somerset Police tweeted at about 2.40am that the protest 'has now concluded after officers enforced COVID-19 legislation'. (SWNS)
Avon and Somerset Police tweeted at about 2.40am that the protest 'has now concluded after officers enforced COVID-19 legislation'. (SWNS)

She told BBC Breakfast: “I saw some of the scenes, as I did on Sunday evening as well, and protests are unlawful right now and quite frankly we’ve seen more criminality and violent behaviour which is simply unacceptable.

“We live in an open society and a democracy so the principle to protest and to have your voice heard is absolutely crucial, but there is no acceptability at all for criminality, thuggish behaviour and the type of violent scenes we’ve seen over recent evenings, they included the most appalling assaults and criminal attacks on police officers, there’s a fundamental difference between the two.”

Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said protesters "were intent on remaining at the location, in spite of legislation in place to protect public health".

Police reminded the public that gatherings were not permitted, adding that demonstrators 'risk spreading the virus further'. (SWNS)
Police reminded the public that gatherings were not permitted, adding that demonstrators 'risk spreading the virus further'. (SWNS)
Home secretary Priti Patel criticised the 'criminality and violent behaviour' during the most recent protests. (SWNS)
Home secretary Priti Patel criticised the 'criminality and violent behaviour' during the most recent protests. (SWNS)

She added: “After the scenes of violence witnessed in the city at the weekend it was necessary to bring in additional resources from our neighbouring forces to ensure the protest was safely brought to a swift conclusion.

“Throughout the operation officers continued to urge protesters to move on – at no time were they contained – but there came a time when enforcement was necessary as gatherings are still not permitted.”

The government's bill will see the police handed new powers to impose conditions on demonstrations, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.

Officers on horseback patrol the streets of Bristol following another night of protests. (SWNS)
Officers on horseback patrol the streets of Bristol following another night of protests. (SWNS)
One of those arrested was in connection with the disorder in Bristol on Sunday, Avon and Somerset Police said in a tweet. (SWNS)
One of those arrested was in connection with the disorder in Bristol on Sunday, Avon and Somerset Police said in a tweet. (SWNS)

Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail.

Violence erupted at the weekend in Bristol city centre, which saw a police station attacked, 21 officers injured and vehicles set alight.

Around 3,000 people attended a peaceful demonstration on College Green but events turned violent after around 500 people descended on the New Bridewell police station.

Watch: Priti Patel condemns Bristol rioters