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18 arrests in Manchester as Kill the Bill protests take place across UK
27 March 2021, 21:00 | Updated: 28 March 2021, 08:13
Police have arrested 18 people after Kill the Bill protesters blocked tram lines in Manchester.
The protest to demonstrate against the Government's new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was one of a number across the UK on Saturday, with others in Sheffield, Brighton and Bath.
They came after a third Kill the Bill demonstration in Bristol on Friday, with 10 arrests made following what police called unacceptable "violent conduct".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier branded the violence towards police "disgraceful", while Avon and Somerset Police urged people considering taking part in further protests in the city to "reconsider for the sake of public health".
Greater Manchester Police described Saturday's protest in its city as "largely peaceful".
A force spokesman said by 4pm most of the crowd had left, but some who remained sat on the Metrolink line in St Peter's Square, causing "significant disruption" to transport networks.
After repeated warnings from officers, police moved in to remove those obstructing the tram lines and arrested 18 people, the spokesman said.
Footage and pictures from earlier in the afternoon showed protesters marching through the city centre and taking the knee in front of a mural of George Floyd.
Chief Superintendent Andy Sidebotham said: "We have been working closely with partners and engaging with those present at the protest all afternoon to avoid any risk or disruption to the wider public in the city centre and today's event was largely peaceful and without issue.
"However, as the day went on the remaining group caused significant disruption to the public of Greater Manchester.
"I understand the desire to peacefully protest but by blocking trams this smaller group prevented passengers from travelling to work for essential journeys, including health and care workers.
"This was clearly unacceptable and, in our duty to serve the public, we could not allow to be tolerated any longer.
"I would like to pay tribute to the patience of the public today whilst we brought this to a conclusion.
"This importantly comes down to the people of Greater Manchester and a small minority today ultimately caused them a great deal of disruption which required us to step in and bring it to a fair and swift conclusion."