Dozens of arrests made at anti-lockdown protests across England

21 November 2020, 18:29 | Updated: 22 November 2020, 10:05

Hundreds of people attended the march
Hundreds of people attended the march. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police have made dozens of arrests following a series of anti-lockdown protests across England.

Officers dealt with a crowd of people who gathered in Liverpool city centre from about 1pm on Saturday.

13 arrests were made in total, including 36-year-old man from Kirkby was arrested on suspicion of assault of an emergency worker after an officer was pushed to the chest in Church Street.

Four people were arrested on suspicion of encouraging or assisting the commission of Covid-19 offences and five were held on suspicion of breaching Covid-19 legislation.

One person one was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and two were arrested for failing to provide their name and address.

Several of those earlier arrested were de-arrested.

A total of 25 fixed penalty notices were issued.

The gathering was illegal as it is in breach of Covid lockdown rules, which have been in place across England since November 2.

Police made 15 arrests at the protest
Police made 15 arrests at the protest. Picture: PA

Chief Superintendent Ngaire Waine said: "The vast majority of people in Merseyside have made huge sacrifices since March, missing weddings, funerals and family celebrations in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.

"We have seen infection rates driven down in Merseyside thanks to the commitment of so many people, and already more than 140,000 have taken part in a mass testing pilot here in Merseyside to help the national effort to protect life and get back to normality. They are a credit to this county."

He continued: "So it will be incredibly frustrating for all those people to see that a minority of selfish individuals chose to flout laws brought in to protect the lives of people, putting our communities and themselves at risk.

"Their actions have posed a significant risk to public health and we will continue to study CCTV and bodycam to identify offenders and bring them to justice.

"We have arrested 15 people so far and dispersed many more. Our officers - deployed to encourage people to do the right thing and to carry out enforcement to protect the public - have been subjected to mindless abuse from many of those gathered, but continued to carry out their duties with complete professionalism."

Police clashed with protestors during the protest
Police clashed with protestors during the protest. Picture: PA

Police in Essex arrested 12 people and issued seven fines after an illegal gathering in Basildon. A number of officers reported being assaulted and sustained minor injuries.

Seven fines were issued and a dispersal order remains in place for the town centre until 12.30am on Sunday.

Superintendent Bonnie Moore said: "This was a clear and blatant breach of the government's COVID-19 regulations and those who took part have risked their health and those of their loved ones through the spread of the virus."

She added: "A number of our officers involved today also reported being injured but, thankfully, their injuries are relatively minor.

"Having to deal with clear and blatant breaches of the regulations means having to take our officers away from dealing with other incidents and affects our ability to respond to other forms of crime."

Basildon Council leader Gavin Callaghan criticised the "idiotic protesters taking to our streets and causing trouble", saying "police officers and their families have been put in totally avoidable danger".

Two men were also arrested on suspicion of breaching Covid-19 regulations after a group of about 100 people protested in Bournemouth, said Dorset Police.

Police dispersed the protestors from the city centre
Police dispersed the protestors from the city centre. Picture: PA

Earlier this month, police in Manchester dispersed hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters after repeatedly warning organisers against the event.

Despite repeated warnings from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) before a during the gathering, the group defiantly stayed in Piccadilly Gardens for hours.

Officers gained a dispersal order at around 4pm and moved in on the protesters, clearing the crowd of around 1,000 people out of the areas but spreading groups into the rest of the city centre.

The group had a short standoff with police in surrounding streets before eventually dispersing.

And in London, police arrested 190 people as hundreds marched calling for 'freedom' on the day tougher coronavirus rules came into force.

Officers urged demonstrators to go home as they took to the streets near Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, warning those who had gathered that they were breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters, very few of whom were wearing face coverings, walked up the Strand chanting "freedom" and "no more lockdown".

Trailed by a large number of officers from both the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, protesters were repeatedly told to go home, with one officer shouting at a group: "You are breaking the law."