Seven people were arrested in Bristol after demonstrations were held across England on Saturday against plans to increase police powers.
Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, thousands of people marched in towns and cities in protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The proposed legislation would give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests – including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.
Throughout Saturday, police dealt with what they said were “peaceful” Kill the Bill protests in areas including London, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool and Dorset.
More than 1,500 people attended the Bristol protest, according to Avon and Somerset Police.
The M32 motorway was temporarily closed to inbound traffic at junction 3 when a smaller group of protesters occupied the road.
At around midnight, a section 35 dispersal order was issued for the city centre following “several instances of minor disorder between protesters”, police said.
Seven people were later arrested.
Superintendent Mark Runacres said: “At around midnight there were several altercations between the small number of people who remained in the city centre. We never tolerate violence and so we made the decision to move people on.
“It’s disappointing that once again there were those who refused to listen to our requests to leave and that we had to make arrests.”
In London, 26 people were arrested for a variety of offences including assault on police and breach of the peace.
A woman was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon after a knife was recovered.
By Saturday evening, the Metropolitan Police said “a small minority” of protesters, who were not social distancing, remained in Parliament Square after many demonstrators had left.
Arrests were made after they turned down requests to leave.
Scotland Yard later said 10 officers had been injured, though “none of these are believed to be serious”.
Commander Ade Adelekan, who described it as a “challenging day for officers”, said: “The vast majority of people who turned out in central London today did so while adhering to social distancing.
“They engaged with my officers when required and left when asked – I would like to thank them for doing so.
“We remain in the middle of a global pandemic and we have made great progress in controlling the spread of the virus. We will not allow the selfish actions of a small number of people to put Londoners’ progress in jeopardy.”
There was a low-key response from Northumbria Police as hundreds of people gathered beneath Grey’s Monument in Newcastle.
Protesters, including one who held up a placard saying “we will not be silenced”, cheered as a singer with a guitar performed in opposition to the proposed Bill.
Many took the knee at the Civic Centre and held a minute’s silence for victims of oppression, after which a round of applause broke out.
Dorset Police thanked those who took part in “peaceful protests” in Bournemouth and Weymouth and stuck to the Covid-19 restrictions.