Police issue warnings ahead of planned Kill the Bill protests

2 April 2021, 15:57

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police have issued warnings against people gathering over the Easter weekend as multiple Kill the Bill protests are expected to take place across England on Friday.

A rally against the Government's proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been organised for 2pm at Finsbury Park in London, with similar events planned in Leeds, Manchester and Southampton.

Although the protests are lawful providing organisers submit a risk assessment and take steps to ensure the gatherings are safe, the Metropolitan Police warned on Thursday the safety of the wider community is paramount.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police sought to avoid a repeat of scenes played out across the country this week by introducing a 48-hour dispersal order for the city centre, to last until 3pm on Saturday.

It means officers can direct anyone acting anti-socially to leave the area.

A Kill the Bill protest has started in Leeds
A Kill the Bill protest has started in Leeds. Picture: LBC

The first Kill the Bill protest in Bristol on March 21 descended into a riot, with subsequent rallies on March 23 and 26 also ending in clashes between the police and protesters. A further demonstration on March 30 passed off peacefully.

The proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.

And on Thursday, the Metropolitan police force warned people not to gather in large groups over the Easter weekend following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: "We cannot allow the selfish actions of a small minority of people to jeopardise the efforts of this city.

"We will continue to shut down house parties or dangerous raves quickly, taking enforcement action by handing out fines.

"We make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which pose a serious risk to public health."

Several large Kill the Bill protests have taken place in Bristol
Several large Kill the Bill protests have taken place in Bristol. Picture: PA

It comes as a man has been charged with attempted arson with intent to endanger life from the first Kill the Bill protest in Bristol.

Ryan Paul Roberts, 25, was arrested in connection with a lit item being placed underneath an occupied police van during a riot which saw vehicles set on fire and officers allegedly attacked.

On Friday, Avon and Somerset Police said the incident happened during violent disorder outside their police station in Bridewell Street, Bristol, on Sunday March 21.

The force said Roberts, of Madeira Road, Plymouth, is also charged with two counts of criminal damage and two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, and has been remanded in custody ahead of appearing at Bristol Magistrates' Court on Saturday, April 3.

Two other men and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and released under investigation.

In total, 29 people have now been arrested in connection with the riot that saw 500 people march on Bridewell police station and set fire to police vehicles and attack the station.