Local police had claimed that “20 officers had been assaulted or injured”
Avon and Somerset police have withdrawn their claims that police officers had suffered broken bones and one even a punctured lung after dealing with protests in Bristol last Sunday night.
On Monday the force released a statement saying that “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.”
However on Wednesday they clarified this statement saying that in fact only two officers were taken to hospital and after assessment “neither were found to have suffered confirmed broken bones.”
The head of the force Andy Marsh confirmed on the same day that no officer had suffered a punctured lung either.
Describing it as "the biggest digital investigation Avon and Somerset Police has faced". He also thanked the public for their help so far. On the injuries officers recieved, there were no broken bones or a punctured lung as previously reported……
— Pete Simson (@SimsonPete) March 24, 2021
The withdrawal of the claims that have been proven to be false will do nothing to ease tensions between protestors and the police. While the violence that protestors demonstrated on Sunday should not be condoned, it significantly changes the narrative surrounding their acts if it turns out that officers suffered serious injuries.
Speaking to the Guardian, student Saranya Thambirajah who was at the protests highlighted how much of an issue this was.
She said: “It’s just frustrating because obviously Sunday was a very explosive day. No one expected things to go down the way that they did and it’s unfortunate that people got hurt.
“But the media narrative that came out was very much focused on the fact that these officers got broken bones, had punctured lungs, were very seriously injured. I think that’s what a lot of the public now associate those protests with and it’s the first thing people are going to think of, when in reality that’s not true.”
The protests are against the Police and Crime Commissioner Bill, part of which bans residing on any private or public land in vehicles without permission where they are causing “significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities”.
The force said they were expecting more protests this weekend, and their suspicions have proven true as Friday saw more demonstrations in Bristol, with 10 people arrested. The Prime Minister has labelled the protests as “disgraceful.”
However footage has also emerged of Daily Mirror journalist Matthew Dresch being assaulted by officers at the protest, and Labour MP Nadia Whitmore is leading calls for an investigation to be carried out into the handling of the protests.
Reports of protesters and journalists injured last night in Bristol.
The case for an independent investigation into the policing of the #BristolProtests is clear.
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) March 27, 2021