• WATCH: The moment the statue was brought down during the protest.

Bristol's police bosses have defended their officers for not intervening to stopprotesters pulling down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.

The removal of the statue has been the subject of worldwide attention since yesterday's Black Lives Matter protest (7 June).

Some argue the police should have intervened while others argue they made the right call.

Avon and Somerset Police have since said its toppling was an illegal act and have launched an investigation into the matter.

That news came as Superintendent Andy Bennett told ITV News that after much reflection he still felt it was right to let the incident 'play out'.

But there are those including Downing Street and labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who have voiced their disapproval about the way the statue was removed.

John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales,has also criticised the force for not intervening, telling the BBC it "sent quite a negative message."

And although Avon and Somerset Police say it now believes that the toppling was pre-meditated, Superintendent Bennett said his officers acted within with the resources and intelligence they had at the time.

We felt probably the greatest threat was probably criminal damage, maybe bit of spraying, thought was actually an acceptable thing to deal with at the time and deal with later, but we had no way predicted it would be toppled.

Superintendent Andy Bennett

But on the other side of the argument there are those who have agreed that allowing the removal of the statue was the right thing to do.

Avon and Somerset's Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, has backed the superintendent's comments while Bristol's current Mayor, Marvin Rees, said he could not condone the damage done but praised the police response.

To arrest suspects would likely to lead to injuries to suspects, injuries to officers, and people who were not involved in damaging property being thrown into a very violent confrontation that could have had serious ramifications for the city of Bristol and beyond.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh

This was a very emotive protest with an anti-police rhetoric therefore this was fundamentally different, that's why we we took a fundamentally different approach to responding to that act.

Superintendent Bennett

The statue was one of a number of landmarks in the city to bear Colston's name, although music venue Colston Hall will be renamed this year as part of a major refurbishment.

A spokesman for Historic England said the "unauthorised removal of a listedstructure could not be condoned, but recognised that the statue had been asymbol of injustice and a source of pain."

He went onto add that Historic England 'did not believe it must be reinstated.'

More than 10,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a statue of Dr Paul Stephenson - who led the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott - to replace the Colston memorial.