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Dozens arrested in UK cities after police clash with anti-lockdown and Kill The Bill protesters

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read

Watch: Violence in protests spreading from Bristol?

Dozens of anti-lockdown protesters have been arrested in cities across the UK after clashing with police.

A total of 41 people were arrested in Bristol, Bradford and Manchester as protest groups took to the streets to campaign against lockdown and a new police bill.

Crowds of demonstrators also marched on Brighton, Bath and Sheffield on Saturday afternoon for further Kill The Bill and anti-lockdown protests.

Tensions have been high since MPs passed the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill earlier this month, which gives extra powers to police forces to clampdown on protests.

Read: School facing Mohammad cartoon anger turns pupils away as protesters return

In Bristol, ten people were arrested after violent disorder in the city overnight.

More than 1,000 people gathered at College Green from 4pm for a protest and began marching through the city centre.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/03/27: Protesters holding placards expressing their opinion at Piccadilly bus terminal during the demonstration.
People come out to the streets to protest against the new policing bill in a 'Kill The Bill demonstration'. The new legislation will give the police more powers to control protests. (Photo by Andy Barton/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters holding placards expressing their opinion at Piccadilly bus terminal during the demonstration. (PA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

At around 6.30pm, crowds congregated in front of a police cordon on Lewins Mead and officers were instructed to put on riot gear after ammonia was smelt in the crowd.

Just after 10pm, eggs and glass bottles were thrown at officers as they moved to disperse the crowds.

Neighbouring forces as well as police dogs, horses and helicopter were deployed to bring the crowd under control,

Of the ten arrested, one has been issued with a fixed penalty notice while the other nine remain in police custody.

Protesters sit in front of police officers during the
Protesters sit in front of police officers during the "Kill The Bill" protest in Bristol, England. (PA via AP)

Superintendent Mark Runacres said: “The majority of people acted peacefully however there was a minority who once again showed hostility to officers.

“Items, including glass bottles and bricks, were thrown at officers, fireworks were launched at our mounted section while one of our horses was also covered with paint. This violent conduct is not acceptable.”

In Bradford, a group of around 400 anti-lockdown demonstrators, anti-vaccination groups and anti-government protesters took to the streets of Bradford on Saturday afternoon.

The crowd gathered to march from City Hall and Bradford Magistrates’ Court to Centenary Square.

Watch: Bristol police urge people to avoid further Kill The Bill protests

West Yorkshire Police said the majority of demonstrators were “peaceful” but some “attempted to cause disruption” as they headed towards a vaccine clinic.

Nine police officers were injured during the clashes, the force said.

Police said 13 people have now been arrested on suspicion of several offences including public order.

Another 19 people were issued fixed penalty notices for breaching COVID-19 regulations and several dispersal orders were issued.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/03/27: Police officers arresting a protester at St Peters Square during the demonstration.
People come out to the streets to protest against the new policing bill in a 'Kill The Bill demonstration'. The new legislation will give the police more powers to control protests. (Photo by Andy Barton/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Police officers arresting a protester at St Peters Square during the demonstration. (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Oz Khan, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We are grateful to the communities of Bradford, who have attended the protest in a peaceful way.

“However, there was a group of people who had travelled from outside the Bradford district to cause trouble.”

In Manchester, 18 people were arrested after protesters tried to block tramlines on Saturday afternoon.

Read more:

New COVID variants ‘could reinfect people every two to four years', warns professor

Minister defends plans to extend ‘excessive and disproportionate’ COVID lockdown powers in England for another six months

Greater Manchester Police said a small group of protesters began to sit on the Metrolink line at St Peter's Square and cause significant disruption to transport networks.

Officers then had to forcibly remove the group of people after they refused to leave.

Chief Superintendent Andy Sidebotham said: “I understand the desire to peacefully protest but by blocking trams this smaller group prevented passengers from travelling to work for essential journeys, including health and care workers.

“This was clearly unacceptable and, in our duty to serve the public, we could not allow to be tolerated any longer.”

Watch: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: What's in it and why it's caused controversy