‘They’re not going home – so we’re changing tactics’: Behind police lines as Bristol gripped by violence

"They’re not going home – so we’re going to change tactics."

The words of a senior police officer to us as we waited behind police lines – five hours after the latest protest had begun in Bristol.

Minutes later, as we filmed on the protesters’ side of the frontline of mounted police, the push began.

The dispersal was forceful, direct and chaotic.

Police dogs surrounded the several hundred remaining protesters as officers in full riot gear pushed the line forward, in a bid to move crowds away from Bridewell police station.

The tactic worked – but not quickly.

Protesters splintered down various roads – and some were intent on clashing with officers.

"They’ve got blood on their hands," one protester shouted at me.

The chants of "Our streets" and "Kill the Bill" had echoed around the city centre protest all night.

What had started as a friendly demonstration of several thousand at 4pm had ended with 500 to 750 protesters who, despite heavy rain, were determined to stay to protest their anger at the Police and Crime Bill.

The dispersal continued to push us and protesters down The Horsefair.

At one point, mounted officers proceeded at a pace quick enough to force protester to turn and run.

And then, within 45 minutes of the police changing tactics, the large crowds were gone.

Small handfuls walking off into the night, as riot officers stood guard down various streets and alleyways.

This was the third night of disruption Bristol has seen this week.

There are reports of further planned protests this weekend.

The hope now is that the violent clashes between the police and the public do not become a regular fixture, in a city quickly becoming renowned for protest.

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