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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

PFEW Conference: Bravery of officers at Bristol protests will leave the public with jaws on the table with gratitude

11 June 2021

When the public are able to see the bravery of police officers and what they encountered during the Bristol ‘protests’ their jaws will be on the table with gratitude, the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police has said.

Andy Marsh was speaking at a session on policing protests at the virtual Police Federation of England and Wales Conference today.

Due to ongoing court cases CC Marsh didn’t want to go into too much detail but he took the opportunity of the conference floor to back officers and their actions over the past year at high profile events in Bristol.

As well as supporting front line officers, he said there had to be a distinction between legitimate democratic protest and criminal actions.

"There is a right way to protest...,” said CC Marsh. “Attacking police officers and trying to burn police vehicles is not the right way to protest... that's criminality."

Mr Marsh said that rather than this year’s events in Bristol put off colleagues from wanting to be public order trained, "we have seen an increase in people volunteering for Level 2 work".

Referring to last year’s high profile toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, CC Marsh backed the actions of the force and colleagues involved. “From the first CCTV footage of rope being around the statue, it was less than two minutes before it was on floor.”

Mr Marsh said it was the Goldilocks dilemma – for some the policing response is too strong, for others not hard enough. He added that charges have been brought against several individuals over the statue incident and eight are being prosecuted for the serious violence against officers at Bridewell Station this year.

“We are far from finished with those charges – when people see the footage of what those officers dealt with their jaws will be on the table,” the chief said. He also spoke about two officers who bore the brunt of the violence. A container of urine was thrown over one, and another’s helmet had been split.

Overall CC Marsh was very praising of the work of colleagues and of the Police Federation

Iain Prideaux, Chairman of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: “I thoroughly support Mr Marsh in his focus on officer welfare and wellbeing. He has led from the top, sometimes shared personal experience and by his example has helped to create an environment in Avon and Somerset Constabulary where health and wellbeing can be openly discussed.

“I hope his ceiling will be the floor upon which future chief officers build and I look forward to building on his legacy for all Federated officers and the wider police family.”