Bristol Kill The Bill demonstration: More than a thousand gather in city centre

  • Watch crowds gather at Bristol Kill The Bill protest

More than 1,000 people gathered in Bristol city centre for the city's third 'Kill The Bill' demonstration in under a week.

Avon and Somerset Police officers were at the scene of the protest on Friday 26 March, which started on College Green and saw protesters march to Bridewell Street - where protests turned violent on Sunday (21 March).

The crowd was demonstrating against the Government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The force said it "engaged" with protesters, but warned officers would take enforcement action "if necessary" and urged demonstrators to "go home".

Superintendent Mark Runacres, the Bristol Police Commander, said: "After the disorder that occurred on Sunday we have been able to mobilise a policing operation in far greater numbers to counter any risk.

"We can't and won't tolerate any attack on the police station such as we had on Sunday."

Roads were closed leading up to the crowd and traffic was relatively heavy in the area, according to monitoring site Inrix.

Buses were also disrupted and services were diverted.

According to ITV News West Country's reporters on the ground, the crowd near Bridewell Police Station was just over 1,000 people.

Police Officers in full riot gear, with dogs and horses, were lined up blocking access to the station, which was targeted in Sunday's violence.

Many on Friday night were peaceful, holding daffodils while dancing to music and chanting 'Kill the Bill'.

The protest started at around 4pm in the afternoon and saw hundreds of people gather on College Green.

Some of the protesters told ITV they were annoyed by the police presence.

One of them said they were motivated to attend after the force retracted its claim that two of its officers suffered broken bones in Sunday's night of violence.

Another added: "I don't want to get injured, I've got a dodgy knee, I don't want to get kicked and punched, but something's got to be done." said one young woman who had joined the protest, "We're going to keep coming back and protesting and sitting here and expressing our upset about it until are move is made, because you can't take away our democratic rights like this, it's not ok."

Someone else there said: "If you rape someone, it's a five year sentence, if you pull down a statue, it's ten year sentence and you just think 'this is beyond law, this is about morality here.' Lives are worth more than metal."

"I think a key part of a democracy is being able to stand up for what you believe in" said another, "Trying to limit that is just ridiculous. The message has been lost in the media portraying it a certain way, so the bill goes through, and you need to stand up against it."

The demonstration comes less than a week after thousands of people gathered for a Kill The Bill protest in Bristol on Sunday 21 March.

It turned violent in the evening and ended in a riot.

Dozens of police officers were injured, Bridewell Police Station was damaged, and police vehicles were set on fire during the violence.

A second demonstration on Tuesday 23 March saw 14 people arrested.

On Friday, police officers guarded the station and blocked all access points to it.

There were also several riot vans lined up nearby and three lines of officers dressed in full riot gear, including helmets.

Police guard Bridewell Police Station.

What is 'Kill The Bill'?

People have been demonstrating against a proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give police increased power to stop protests.

The Bill also makes a special new law to protect monuments and statues, in the wake of the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, with the crime of damaging them punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Under new government proposals trespass would become a criminal offence - rather than being a civil matter - in order to tackle unauthorised encampments, giving police the power to seize vehicles and arrest people who refuse to move.

Those breaking the new law on trespass could be fined up to £2,500 and could face a prison sentence of up to three months, but concerns have been raised by both academics and organisations that the new law will disproportionately affect travellers and more widely those living on roadside camps.

Read more: