Andy Marsh, Chief Constable of Britain’s worst-policed region Avon and Somerset, is to step down after a disastrous year which put his department — and British policing in general — to shame.
Marsh’s police force was the one which last summer allowed a civic statue to be dragged from its plinth in Bristol by a mostly white mob claiming to represent Black Lives Matter. His officers stood back and watched — as ordered by their senior officer — as it was dumped in the city’s docks.
The superintendent in charge of the operation even went so far as to suggest that the city ‘should be proud’ over the act of vandalism because the statue belonged to a man linked to the slave trade.
Marsh said at the time his officers stood back because trying to stop a crime being committed at the protest would have caused “a very violent confrontation”. Inevitably, Bristol police gaining a reputation as being a force that stood back and watched crimes rather than stop them from happening had ramifications when Marsh was left over-correcting to prevent the city being burnt down.
Just months later, Marsh’s force was the one criticised for its response to the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests, which was characterised by a mix of ineptness, brutality, and mendacity.
The ineptitude included allowing the mob, including members of Antifa, to burn a number of police vehicles and cause ‘significant damage’ to the city’s New Bridewell police station.
The brutality comprised a heavy-handed overreaction in which police manhandled a news reporter and thuggishly batter fallen protestors with their riot shields.
Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers. I have muted the latter part of the video to spare you all the pain of hearing my shrill voice. pic.twitter.com/a7a0Nnw0bG
— Matthew Dresch (@MatthewDresch) March 27, 2021
The mendacity included a press statement by Avon and Somerset Police that among 20 injured officers ‘two of them were taken to hospital after suffering broken bones. One of them also suffered a punctured lung.’ This was untrue. The police subsequently retracted these false claims.
Avon and Somerset police’s failures represent in microcosm what is wrong with policing in Britain generally: insufferably woke, heavily politicised, inconsistent, untrustworthy, and once they actually get going extremely brutal towards those deemed enemies of the state.
Marsh, who joined Avon and Somerset police in 1987 and rose through the ranks to the top job, may only bear partial responsibility for this widespread culture of decline. But as the boss, he had to take the rap — especially after Home Secretary Priti Patel made clear her displeasure with Bristol’s lax policing, including with its slowness at bringing charges against the mob which pulled down the statue.
The statue of parliamentarian and city benefactor Edward Colston was pulled down in the summer at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. Rather feebly, Marsh claimed that had his officers intervened it would have resulted in a ‘very violent confrontation.’ The more plausible explanation, however, is that local police were so institutionally woke they sympathised with the mob. Superintendent Andy Bennett, in charge of the operation that day, described Colston as “a historical figure who has caused the black community quite a lot of angst” and said “I do understand why it’s happened, it’s very symbolic.”
Bristol’s policing policy is a classic of example of ‘get woke, go broke.’
Marsh’s departure will, of course, do nothing to solve the problem which is endemic and long-term, the consequence of years of politically correct practice in which old-school officers have either retired or resigned in disgust, while the ranks (and especially the higher echelons) have been filled with officers more concerned with diversity quotas, rainbow-painted police vehicles and dancing at Gay Pride festivals than in dealing with actual crime.
Nor, sadly, will it remove perhaps the biggest problem with the police right now: their increasing deployment as the ruthless bully boys of Boris Johnson’s authoritarian Covid state. Just watch how the violence in Bristol by a hard-left mob will now be used to justify more heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors concerned about the erosion of their freedoms under lockdown tyranny.
Marsh is merely a symptom of a growing problem: the police are no longer the servants of the people but the un-British boot boys of an increasingly authoritarian state.