Statement in advance of Somerset Protests

Avon & Somerset Police have issued a statement in advance of planned protests around Somerset today. The protests are against proposed restrictions on the right to protest. These restrictions are contained in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Protests against the Bill are planned in Bath, Taunton, Glastonbury and Bridgwater as well as Bristol. The Police say they have policing plans are in place for each protest. The Police acknowledge that the change to COVID regulations, means that peaceful protests can take place. Providing organisers take the required precautions to ensure people’s safety is not put at risk.

Superintendent Mark Runacres, area commander for Bristol, notes: “We fully respect the fundamental democratic right of being able to protest. We have a long and proud history spanning many years of facilitating peaceful demonstrations. While we’re expecting significant numbers to attend. We’d still urge people to consider finding alternative ways to express their views. Especially given that we’re still in the midst of the pandemic. Large numbers of people congregating together at any one time continues to present a risk of spreading COVID-19.”

The Leveller® says: We fully respect the position of the Police. However the finger of blame here should be pointed firmly at government. Why was this Bill been brought forward when it was? It was obviously controversial. It could have been delayed until after the easing of the restrictions. By bringing it forward when it did, it looks like a cynical attempt to suppress protest. An attempt to mute opposition. Ironic considering that the purpose of the Bill is in part to restrict the right to protest. This cynical ploy deserves to be confronted and called out for what it is.

That is not the fault of the Police. Their officers have a job to do and should be respected at all times. The Police are not there as a thin blue line representing government policy. They are trying to do a difficult job and upholding the law as it is. They do not bring forward new laws and that should be remembered.

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