The end of emergency coronavirus restrictions on protest saw Avon & Somerset police return to their established hands-off approach to policing as the fourth Kill the Bill protest took place on Tuesday evening.
A&S police have built a reputation for loose protest policing tactics over the last few years, especially around Extinction Rebellion protests and last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, where police commander Andy Bennett chose not to intervene in the toppling of the Colston Statue.
In a statement, A&S police said ‘Now that restrictions around protest have changed, we wanted to press a reset button, and I believe we achieved this last night. We have a long and proud history of facilitating peaceful protests spanning many years and today was a prime example of this.’
‘From the outset we had a very positive dialogue with those gathering at College Green, led by our police liaison officers.’
Protests so far have been largely unplanned and unorganised due to coronavirus restrictions threatening a £10,000 fine for organisers of protests.
In consequence, no one was able to liaise with police prior to protests happening.
The atmosphere at Tuesday’s protest and march was light and non-threatening, with messaging focusing on opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Around 21:30 he march stopped outside Bridewell police station, the site of violent police interventions in previous protests on Friday 26th and Sunday 21st.
However, the police remained in the background, with few officers monitoring the protesters as they sat outside Bridewell. There were reports of additional police, including riot police, stationed at the nearby NCP car park.
By 23:30, most protesters had dispersed.
A further Kill the Bill protest is planned for Saturday 3rd April, meeting at College Green at 14:00.