Police used 'legitimate tactics' against Bristol protesters, police chief claims

27 March 2021, 11:37

By Seán Hickey

This police commander tells LBC that police used force on 'Kill the Bill' protesters after 'coming under attack, despite a journalist's claims that police instigated the violence.

"Images are circulating online of police officers using their riot shields to hit protesters," Andrew Castle told Avon and Somerset Police Superintendent Mark Runacres.

He wondered whether the Bristol commander felt the police response was proportionate.

"All our tactics are as we're trained by the college of policing," Mr Runacres said. "They're approved tactics."

He went on to justify specific actions taken by police against protesters: "A shield strike is a legitimate tactic in public order policing if it can be justified by the officer at the time," he insisted.

The police chief maintained that "officers cannot be expected to stand and be attacked by people" and so the force used by officers at "Kill the Bill" protests was proportionate.

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He reiterated the "need to be proportionate," in policing, "but if officers are coming under attack in that way, then we will deliver robust and effective responses to counter that threat."

Political editor at Huck Magazine Ben Smoke was at the protests in Bristol and spoke to Andrew about police intervention.

He initially told Andrew that he wasn't told by police to leave the scene, but accepted that there were calls from the forces for protesters to disperse.

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On the violent clashes between police and protesters, Mr Smoke countered the views of Superintendent Runacres by arguing that protests were peaceful "until the police used force against peaceful protesters."

Andrew pushed the journalist, looking for clarification on the events of Friday night: "Did you see the police being intimidated, or being attacked by protesters before the police stepped in?"

Mr Smoke reiterated that protesters were "bludgeoned in the dark," by police who weren't provoked, and scenes took a turn for the worse after police begun to use force.