Bristol’s chief of police defended his officers’ decision not to intervene on the day that the Edward Colston statue was toppled.
It is argued that during such protests, intervention by the police had the potential to escalate the situation into a violent confrontation, where not only the police, and those suspected to be responsible for the removal of the statue were at risk of being hurt, but also other parties protesting and onlookers. Scenes of police fighting with protestors over the removal of a statue of a slave trader would cause harm to the level of trust in police in an already delicate situation.
The criminal act of toppling the statue has not been condoned. A police investigation into the criminal damage is taking place. The decision, however, not to act at the time that the statue was toppled was based on sound judgment, taken with a calm, common sense approach, and most significantly, took into consideration the safety of the public, protesting in the midst of heated emotions. As a result of the police’s decision to take no action, there were no injuries or arrests in a crowd of over 10,000 people.