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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Arrests made as Bristol protest dispersed

A protest in Bristol of around 200 people has now concluded after officers enforced COVID-19 legislation.

Mutual aid from neighbouring forces was requested to assist in dispersing the gathering on College Green – which began at 4pm – after efforts to encourage people to leave were unsuccessful.

Highly trained public order officers from Avon and Somerset, British Transport Police, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed Powys, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Wiltshire were deployed to move protestors on at 10pm.

Specialist police dog units, horses, the National Police Air Service and a police drone unit were also involved in the operation.

While many left the area, a significant number gathered on Deanery Road and refused to disperse.

A total of 14 people were arrested for offences including breaches of COVID-19 legislation and obstruction of a highway.

One of those detained were also arrested for offences connected with the violent disorder in the city on Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said: “Officers had engaged with protestors and asked them to disperse, but tents and a sound system were set up so it was abundantly clear they were intent on remaining at the location, in spite of legislation in place to protect public health.

“After the scenes of violence witnessed in the city at the weekend it was necessary to bring in additional resources from our neighbouring forces to ensure the protest was safely brought to a swift conclusion.

“Throughout the operation officers continued to urge protestors to move on – at no time were they contained – but there came a time when enforcement was necessary as gatherings are still not permitted.”

Ch Supt Armes added: “It’s disappointing that officers needed to take this action on a day we should be remembering all those who’ve lost their lives to COVID-19 over the past year.

“The communities of Bristol have made too many sacrifices and worked so hard to defeat this virus, it’s unacceptable for people to insult their efforts in this way.”