COVID-19 police warning ahead of Kill the Bill protests

Kill the Bill protesters have been warned against breaching COVID-19 restrictions by police ahead of demonstrations this afternoon.

Rallies against the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill have been organised in Finsbury Park in north London as well as Leeds, Manchester and Southampton.

The Kill the Bill protests are lawful, providing organisers submit a risk assessment and take steps to ensure gatherings are COVID-safe, but the Metropolitan Police warned the safety of the wider community is paramount.

"Enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health," the force said.

Greater Manchester Police have tried to avoid a repeat of violent scenes in Bristol by introducing a 48-hour dispersal order for the city centre, to last until 3pm on Saturday.

Officers can direct anyone acting antisocially to leave the area.

Also on Friday, Ryan Paul Roberts, 25, was charged with attempted arson with intent to endanger life after an item on fire was placed underneath an occupied police van outside Bristol’s Bridewell Police Station during the protest on 21 March.

Roberts, of Madeira Road, Plymouth, is also charged with two counts of criminal damage and two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

He has been remanded in custody and is set to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

Police on Friday said two other men and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and released under investigation.

A total of 29 people have now been arrested in connection with clashes and a further 16 are being sought as part of the inquiry.

The proposed Bill would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including for being too noisy or a nuisance, with fines or jail terms for those convicted.

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