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Blading tactics used during Bristol riots ‘not backed up’ by College

Blading with shields and use of longer batons are authorised tactics which should be defended by police management says Fed

Avon and Somerset’s Federation has expressed “significant disappointment” that the College of Policing did not back up officers’ use of public order tactics during the Bristol riots including blading with shields to push protestors back which is routinely taught on PSU courses.

Forty-four officers were injured in the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests by being kicked, punched and struck by missiles including rocks, bricks and glass bottles. Even more officers were assaulted but escaped injury.

As scores of people have been jailed for their actions in March 2021, Courts have heard how many Avon and Somerset officers had been “greatly affected” by the riots and some had thought they were going to die. 

Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair Mark Loker said officers’ PPE was turned into weapons during the rioting.

He added that it was a “significant disappointment” that the College of Policing had not backed up officers’ tactics during the riots, which had been authorised policing practice.

During the numerous trials that followed the riots some defendants and observers stated that the violence was triggered by provocation from officers – specifically the blading tactic to push back and create space and the use of long batons.

But Mr Loker said that the strong sentences handed out by the courts reflected the violence that officers faced on the night.  

He added: “The one thing we’ve been grateful for is the sentencing of the perpetrators. In a court statement, one of our officers said that they had to make a decision of whether to sit in a burning vehicle or exit the vehicle and be mauled by a mob. The sentencing makes it very clear that that is not tolerated.

“We can prepare for protests in the future with stricter controls, stricter guidelines and education. To assault police officers and destroy property under the guise of a peaceful protest should not be allowed, and this stronger and stricter sentencing is proof of that.”

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