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CAMPAIGNERS have expressed serious alarm after a report aimed at “setting the record straight” revealed that police officers injured over 60 protesters during Kill the Bill demos in Bristol last month.
The preliminary report by campaigners gives the first indication of the scale of injuries sustained by protesters after clashes broke out during demonstrations against the policing Bill between March 21 and 26.
The data, collected by campaign group Bristol Defendant Solidarity (BDS), shows that 62 people were injured, including seven who were bitten by police dogs, 20 who were hit with batons and three who were kicked, punched or physically assaulted by officers, the report claimed.
BDS said that it wanted to “set the record straight” after press reports largely focused on claims of police injuries — the most serious of which were later retracted by Avon and Somerset Police.
The group said that its preliminary findings are “likely to be an underestimate.”
Labour MP Apsana Begum described the findings as “highly alarming” and repeated calls for an investigation into the policing of the protests.
“It’s utterly disgraceful that many dozens of campaigners had injuries inflicted on them in what was an unacceptable onslaught by the police,” she said.
“The revelation that police dogs were used to attack protesters is shameful, and poses grave concerns about the future policing of demonstrations, public safety and basic human rights.”
Police monitoring group Netpol said that it was “genuinely alarmed” by the number of head injuries, which made up a third of those reported.
Netpol co-ordinator Kevin Blowe said: “Police insist that their public order officers are trained on how to use force proportionately and safely.
“This figure, along with the extensive video of police beating people with shields to clear them from sitting in the road, says the opposite.
“It reinforces our view that policing between 21-26 March was violent and excessive and that on Saturday March 26, we witnessed a police riot.”
Delia Mattis of United for Black Lives, a member group of the Kill the Bill coalition, said that the media’s “unbalanced and unchecked reporting” of the protests “added insult to injury.”
“The scale of the injuries in this report is indicative of why people across the country feel the need to continue protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill,” she said.
Further demonstrations against the Bill, which seeks to hand the police more powers to crack down on protest, are taking place across the country this weekend.
Avon and Somerset Police Chief Superintendent Claire Armes said that force is only used when deemed “absolutely necessary,” and that all public order officers are “professionally trained in approved tactics.”
He said the force would work with people “directly to overcome these concerns.”
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