Priti Patel Condemns “Anarchic And Violent” Bristol Protests After Multiple Officers Injured
Seven people have been arrested in connection with the protest so far (Alamy)
Priti Patel told MPs she condemned the actions of a “criminal minority” behind violent scenes at protests in Bristol last night which saw vehicles set on fire and several police officers injured.
Addressing the Commons, she described the scenes as “anarchic and violent” and criticised the protesters for flouting coronavirus restrictions.
“We have been clear that to save lives and fight this pandemic, people must not currently hold large gatherings. Many this weekend selfishly decided that this did not apply to them,” she said.
The home secretary also criticised the Labour party for voting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill last week, which included new measures allowing police to crack down on “disruptive” protests.
“We will always give the police the support and the protection that they need. And it is sad as we saw last week that the opposition voted against measures to protect our peace, and also introduced longer sentences,” she continued.
“The scenes in Bristol yesterday were utterly shameful. We saw criminal thuggery and disorder caused by a minority who put lives at risk, and our exceptional,and brave police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect the public.
“For them to face... criminal violence against them while upholding the law is completely unacceptable.
“My thoughts with the injured officers and their family and Mr Speaker, I hope that every single member of parliament in this house will join me in condemning the shameful actions of the criminal minority behind this.”
Several hundred protesters had gathered in Bristol last night for a Kill the Bill demonstration in opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and its powers to limit protests.
The event started peacefully, but Avon and Somerset Police said that by the evening it had been "turned by a small minority into a violent disorder".
The force said that 20 officers were assaulted or injured as a result, with two being taken to hospital suffering broken bones, and another suffering a punctured lung.
Two police cars were set on fire and the exterior of the Bridewell Police Station was damaged.
Seven individuals have been arrested following the incident — six for violent disorder and one for possession of an offensive weapon.
Commenting on the scenes, Chief Constable Andy Marsh said an investigation was underway to arrest those responsible after a “tactical decision” was made not to detain those responsible on the night.
He added that he expected the cost of repairs and replacing damaged vehicles to “run into the millions”, and that the force would soon “undoubtedly lead to one of the biggest appeals for wanted suspects that we’ve ever done”.