Officer tells of moment his van was set alight by protestors

An Avon and Somerset Constabulary officer who went to the aid of injured colleagues during the violent disorder in Bristol on Sunday (March 31) has spoken of the moment he learned the vehicle he was driving was being set alight by protestors.

Mar 25, 2021
By Tony Thompson

The officer, who has not been named, described first hearing on the radio how colleagues were being injured outside the Bridewell police station.

“I was aware from the radio that my colleagues were under attack outside the front of Bridewell police station where damage had been caused…I could hear screaming and shouting from the officers as they were being attacked – a call was made for vehicles to be used to assist officers.

“The only way to protect my colleagues was to place the vehicle across, side on, in front of them to offer protection. There were glass bottles, rocks as big as fists, pallets, fences and other objects strewn across the road and being used against the police.

“Whilst in the vehicle, a number of people attempted to gain entry to it, however the vehicle was bolted shut.

“I was aware of the smell of burning and CCTV reported that people were attempting to set the vehicle tyres alight, with me still in it, and so I began to prepare to decamp the vehicle.”

The officer’s account emerged as the force published images of some of those sought for questioning in connection witih the violence, including one, known as Person L, who is wanted in connection with the attempt to set fire to the van.

Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte, who is overseeing the investigation into the disorder, said: “This officer’s account is just one of many we’ve gathered from our colleagues at the scene of this terrifying incident. It’s upsetting to hear how colleagues feared for their lives that night and it strengthens our resolve to bring all those responsible to justice.

“Our investigation is continuing at pace but it is painstaking work. Our online gallery, which currently has 18 images within it, has been viewed more than 80,000 times since it was launched – and we’ve received more than 200 calls and around 280 evidential submissions from the public to date. This is a phenomenal response and we’re grateful for every piece of information.”


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