I was saddened and distressed to see riots on the streets of Bristol over the last week. There is no excuse for this violence, which has left people injured and public property destroyed. I support police efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
I am also speaking to constituents who tell me policing was too aggressive or forceful in the recent demonstrations. I am following up these allegations, including in regular communications with the Chief Constable and other senior officers. I am receiving regular updates and will continue to push for these incidents to be fully investigated.
I am also in regular contact with local journalists, city centre residents, protesters and people who think the demonstrations should have been postponed because of the Covid risk. All have valid viewpoints that must be listened to.
The ugly scenes over the last week are a distraction from very real concerns about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which I oppose in its current form – for many reasons, not least because it would shut down peaceful protest. It also completely fails to address the pervasive problem of violence against women. All four Labour MPs in Bristol voted against this Bill.
From today (Monday 29th March), lockdown restrictions are reduced, so demonstrations can go ahead legally. I’d really like organisers of any new protests to work with the police to help ensure that peaceful protest can go ahead.
At a time when Bristol is in the spotlight, I believe we can show the country that we Bristolians know how to campaign peacefully for the change we really need.