The Kill the Bill protest, in Bristol, saw demonstrators scale a police station, throw fireworks into crowds and graffiti walls. Two police vehicles were set on fire, the scaled police station was damaged and two officers suffered broken bones. Avon and Somerset Police said what had started “as a peaceful protest” had been “turned by a small minority into a violent disorder”.
What is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill?
Kil the Bill refers to the 307-page Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will hand police and the home secretary greater powers to crack down on protests.
The Government claims the bill will allow the police to take a “more proactive approach” to intervening in “highly disruptive” protests deemed to be a public disturbance.
The bill will hand the home secretary, Priti Patel, powers to create laws that would define “serious disruption”, which would then allow police to intervene in protests which are deemed disruptive by Ms Patel.
READ MORE: Piers Morgan slams ‘disgusting scenes’ at Bristol demonstration
The proposed legislation also gives police more power to deal with “static protests” such as “sit-ins”, referencing the Extinction Rebellion protests which, the bill states, cost £16million to police.
There are also proposals to impose start and finish times on protests, as well as “maximum noise limits”.
The bill states police will be able to intervene in a protest where noise is impacting those around it.
The bill will also make it easier to convict protestors as it reinstates the offence of creating public nuisance into common law.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said he recognised “the frustrations” with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill but said that “smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the bill going through”.
Thangam Debbonaire, shadow housing secretary and MP for Bristol West, added: “The scenes of violence and direct attack on the police in Bristol city centre will distress most people, including anyone who believes in defending the right to peaceful democratic protest.”
Darren Jones, Labour MP for Bristol North West, tweeted that the scenes in the city were “completely unacceptable”.
“You don’t campaign for the right to peaceful protest by setting police vans on fire or graffitiing buildings,” he said.