Police release footage of Bristol protester placing lit item under force van

25 March 2021, 17:49 | Updated: 25 March 2021, 23:03

By Harriet Whitehead

Police have released a video of someone appearing to attempt to set alight one of their vans as part of an appeal into protests in Bristol last weekend.

The footage is of a specific incident that occurred during the violent disorder in the city on Sunday and shows the moment a lit item was placed under a police van while an officer was inside.

Some 14 people were arrested during a second "Kill the Bill" protest in Bristol just two days after a separate demonstration that descended into rioting.

READ MORE: Police release pictures of 'Kill the Bill' Bristol riot suspects

The protests were against the Government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will see the police handed new powers to tackle demonstrations.

The officer who was inside the van described the moment they first heard on the radio how colleagues were being injured outside the Bridewell police station.

"I was aware from the radio that my colleagues were under attack outside the front of Bridewell police station where damage had been caused… I could hear screaming and shouting from the officers as they were being attacked – a call was made for vehicles to be used to assist officers," the officer said.

"The only way to protect my colleagues was to place the vehicle across, side-on, in front of them to offer protection. There were glass bottles, rocks as big as fists, pallets, fences and other objects strewn across the road and being used against the police.

"Whilst in the vehicle, a number of people attempted to gain entry to it, however the vehicle was bolted shut.

"I was aware of the smell of burning and CCTV reported that people were attempting to set the vehicle tyres alight, with me still in it, and so I began to prepare to decamp the vehicle."

Some 21 officers were injured and several police vehicles were set on fire during the violent scenes that erupted in the city-centre on Sunday evening.

Watch: Starmer tells LBC violence in Bristol was 'inexcusable' and 'unacceptable'

This is the moment an individual appears to attempt to place a lit item under a police van
This is the moment an individual appears to attempt to place a lit item under a police van. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Chief superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said: "This officer’s account is just one of many we’ve gathered from our colleagues at the scene of this terrifying incident. It’s upsetting to hear how colleagues feared for their lives that night and it strengthens our resolve to bring all those responsible to justice.

"Our investigation is continuing at pace but it is painstaking work.

Watch: Pc gives impassioned reaction to 'demoralising' violent Bristol protest

"Our online gallery, which currently has 18 images within it, has been viewed more than 80,000 times since it was launched – and we’ve received more than 200 calls and around 280 evidential submissions from the public to date. This is a phenomenal response and we’re grateful for every piece of information.

"I would ask people to look at the latest image we have released and call us if you know who it is – or you can provide information via a dedicated form on our website."