Police have admitted that two officers who were reported to have suffered broken bones at the “Kill the Bill” demonstration in Bristol, which turned violent, did not actually suffer broken bones.
In a statement released the morning after the disorder, Avon and Somerset Police said: “A total of 20 officers were assaulted or injured and two of them were taken to hospital after suffering broken bones. One of them also suffered a punctured lung.”
These details were widely reported by the media – including by VICE World News – as the protest gained worldwide attention.
However a statement from Avon and Somerset police released on Wednesday said: “Thankfully following a full medical assessment of the two officers taken to hospital, neither were found to have suffered confirmed broken bones.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chief Constable Andy Marsh told reporters that the previous statement had not been true.
Avon and Somerset Police said: “This remains a dynamic and fast-moving incident. The Chief Constable personally spoke to one of the officers while he was at hospital on Sunday night. At the time, the Chief Constable did interviews on Monday morning, it was believed the officer may have suffered broken bones and a punctured lung.
“Following further medical assessment this was deemed not to be the case – but this officer’s injuries were serious enough to result in hospital treatment and a CT scan. A second officer also suffered a suspected broken arm, but on further assessment this too was thankfully found not to be the case. We clarified the extent of injuries proactively in our official media update this morning to be as transparent as possible.”
The Kill the Bill demonstration was against the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which passed its second reading in the House of Commons last week. The bill would give police powers to ban protests that have an “impact” and make it an offence to cause “serious annoyance”, with a potential ten-year jail sentence.
Tuesday saw another night of protest against the Bill. Fourteen people were arrested at a protest on Bristol’s College Green.
The investigation into the disorder at Sunday’s demonstration is ongoing. The number of assaults on police officers being investigated has risen to 40, as well as one assault on a journalist. The total number of arrests so far is nine. Police have released images of suspects.
Avon and Somerset Police have apologised to the Bristol Cable, a community newspaper, after an officer manhandled its reporter Adam Cantwell-Corn and asked him to leave, despite Cantwell-Corn having a press card.