Greta Thunberg: Police warn parents of 'inadequate safety' at Bristol climate protest

27 February 2020, 15:55

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Parents have been warned about "inadequate" safety measures ahead of Friday's climate protest in Bristol that will be attended by Greta Thunberg.

Police are now expecting thousands of people at the Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate protest after the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist announced her plan to speak before the march.

Warnings have been put in place for protesters who could be hurt by either "tripping, slipping, falling or being crushed" by the crowds.

Avon and Somerset Police emphasised that parents must be responsible for their children and people should make their own safety arrangements ahead of the demonstration.

A joint statement by Bristol City Council and the police warned of "major disruption" because of the event and said people from across the UK were planning on attending.

Mike Jackson, the council executive director, and Bristol police commander Superintendent Andy Bennett said: "We have seen a number of protests over the last year however this one will be significantly larger so we want to ensure that anyone planning to attend is prepared and able to make their own safety and safeguarding arrangements.

"Parents are responsible for their children. The council and police are not responsible for unsupervised children."

They added that they "could not accurately predict" how large the numbers would be at the demonstration.

"The event has grown so large that the usual controls, stewarding and safety measures that are routinely put in place by the teenage Youth Strike 4 Climate organisers may not be adequate, especially for primary school children and people with disabilities," they added.

"We would, therefore, encourage those attending, or who are responsible for children who wish to attend, to consider their arrangements carefully and make their own informed decisions."

Greta is set to speak at the event before protesters march around the city centre, bringing parts of Bristol to a standstill.

The event seeks to highlight the impact of climate change on both the planet and future generations and will be attended by children who are striking from school.

A similar protest last year saw roughly 15,000 people take to the streets, but more are expected this time round as people flock to hear the Swedish activist speak.

She was originally set to visit London, however organisers considered the planned protest area too small and recommended Bristol as an alternative venue.

Officials said they were working to ensure the southwestern city remained open as usual, but they recommended people allow extra time for travelling and consider whether their journey is necessary.

Lily Fitzgibbon, 17, one of the organisers for Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate, told LBC News she was "really excited" to have Greta Thunberg speak at the event.

"She's an inspiration and a figurehead for our movement, but also it's such a good recognition of what makes Bristol special and it promotes regional diversity," she said.

Ms Fitzgibbon was expecting an "overwhelmingly positive response" to Greta and said her school was being as "supportive as they can be," despite not being allowed to authorise pupils' absence.

She also apologised about the likely disruption that would be caused, however added that it was the only way children could get their point across about climate change.

"As young people, we often feel that we don't really have another way of getting our voices heard, particularly because we can't vote and so disrupting traffic via a protest is one of the most effective ways that we can actually be listened to."