'People were attempting to set the vehicle tyres alight, with me still in it' - footage released of police van attack

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

Footage has been released of a man placing a lit item under a police van with an officer still inside during protests in Bristol on Sunday night, 21 March 2021.

With a piece of cardboard well-alight, a man slides under a police van, seemingly intent on setting it on fire as well.

Inside were officers providing back-up to colleagues fighting to contain a large and angry crowd of protesters.

Avon and Somerset Police has released the testimony of one of the officers inside the van when the Kill the Bill protest became a riot on Sunday night.

The officer has described first hearing on the radio how colleagues were being injured outside Bridewell police station.

Police want to interview this man in connection with a police van incident during the Bristol Kill the Bill protest. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

He said, “I was aware from the radio that my colleagues were under attack outside the front of Bridewell police station where damage had been caused…

"I could hear screaming and shouting from the officers as they were being attacked. A call was made for vehicles to be used to assist officers.

“The only way to protect my colleagues was to place the vehicle across, side on, in front of them to offer protection. There were glass bottles, rocks as big as fists, pallets, fences and other objects strewn across the road and being used against the police.

“Whilst in the vehicle, a number of people attempted to gain entry to it, however the vehicle was bolted shut."

The man with the flaming piece of cardboard is now a main suspect the force is urgently trying to trace.

Ch Supt Carolyn Belafonte is leading the investigation and said: “This officer’s account is just one of many we’ve gathered from our colleagues at the scene of this terrifying incident. It’s upsetting to hear how colleagues feared for their lives that night and it strengthens our resolve to bring all those responsible to justice.

“Our investigation is continuing at pace but it is painstaking work.

Our online gallery, which currently has 18 images within it, has been viewed more than 80,000 times since it was launched – and we’ve received more than 200 calls and around 280 evidential submissions from the public to date. This is a phenomenal response and we’re grateful for every piece of information."

Footage of attack on police van in Bristol on Sunday 21 March

There is a dedicated form on the police website for people to share information about the images or they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form.