John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has issued a strong warning to anyone thinking of using violence against police officers at protests expected this weekend.
He said: “Following the Black Lives Matter protests of recent weeks, we are aware that further demonstrations and counter-demonstrations are planned around the country this weekend.
“We understand and appreciate the strong emotions these protests have elicited. While we acknowledge and respect the right to protest, we need to remember we are still battling against the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic and public gatherings of more than six people goes against government health advice and is against the law.
“We are aware that some may be intending to further hijack this weekend’s protests as an excuse for creating disorder and causing violence.
“Whilst the majority of those protesting have done so peacefully, we have seen in London and elsewhere a shocking and unacceptable level of violence against police officers, who are just doing their job to keep people safe and prevent disorder.
“Our brave officers, while trying to facilitate these protests have been subject to the most vicious of assaults by a small but violent group, this is completely unacceptable on any level. Similarly, we need to ensure that our officers are appropriately equipped with public order gear –including helmets and shields – when they are facing and attacked by those who are intent on violent behaviour.
“Our message to the public is simple, please do not participate in these gatherings which put public health at risk – consider other ways that you can support the cause of Black Lives Matter if you wish to. But if you must attend, then please stay safe, observe social distancing and protest peacefully, as criminal behaviour or any violence towards our police officers or others will not be tolerated.”