Statement on the events in Bristol on 21 March 2021

This morning, my overwhelming emotion is sadness. The images of Bristol are not representative of who we are – and they are not representative of our city.

I am proud that all four Bristol MPs voted against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The democratic process is not complete, and we will continue to oppose the measures contained within the proposed bill that threaten the right to peaceful democratic protest.

But what we saw last night was not, ultimately, a democratic protest. It was an ugly distortion of one. You bring banners and ideas to a peaceful protest; last night, some saw fit to instead bring fireworks. And the violent action of some have now all but erased any opportunity to make valid points about the bill.

After a week when we highlighted the prevalence of violence against women and girls, we saw actions on our streets that would leave police with less resource to protect the vulnerable.

I spent several days as part of our local police on the Parliamentary policing scheme, and work closely with teams in Bristol South. I know first-hand that they do great work, led by Chief Constable Andy Marsh & Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, particularly supporting most vulnerable. This tough job has been made harder in pandemic.