Police launch urgent review after woman's underwear exposed during protest arrest

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
A woman's trousers were pulled down as she was arrested by officers at a
A woman's trousers were pulled down as she was arrested by officers at a "Kill the Bill" rally in Manchester. (Getty)

Police have launched an urgent review after a woman’s underwear was exposed when her trousers were pulled off as she was being arrested during a protest.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers detained the woman at the “Kill the Bill” demonstration in the city centre on Saturday.

She was among the 18 people who were arrested during the protest, which saw hundreds of campaigners taking to the streets to protest the government's proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

A photo of the incident —which Yahoo UK has decided against publishing in full — shows the woman’s jeans pulled down as officers drag her away.

Read: Dozens arrested in UK cities after police clash with anti-lockdown and Kill The Bill protesters

An officer tried to pull her jeans back on but the incident had already been caught on camera with the image later sparking an outcry on social media.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham on Monday night demanded a “full explanation” from GMP.

 A protester is being detained by police during the demonstration.
People come out to the streets to protest against the new policing bill in a 'Kill The Bill demonstration'. The new legislation will give the police more powers to control protests. (Photo by Andy Barton / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A protester being detained by police during the demonstration. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

It came after a Twitter user tagged him in a photo of the woman and wrote: "I do hope you’ll be doing something about this Andy."

Burnham replied: "I am Mike. I have started by asking Greater Manchester Police to provide a full explanation of what happened."

GMP issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying it would launch a review into what happened during the arrest.

The force added that the pictures of the woman “make for uncomfortable viewing”.

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A GMP spokesperson said: "We are aware of the videos and images of a woman partially exposed when being arrested following Saturday's protest in the city centre, which make for uncomfortable viewing.

"An urgent review is underway to establish circumstances and an update will follow in due course."

In a statement issued on Monday, GMP said six of those arrested were released under investigation, six were handed fixed penalty notices and five others accepted cautions.

Watch: Demonstrators block roads during "Kill the Bill" protest in Manchester.

Meanwhile, a boy of 17 “is being dealt with by the youth offending service”, the force added.

Saturday's protest began in St Peter's Square and had remained “largely peaceful”, according to GMP.

About 150 demonstrators marched through to Piccadilly Gardens, before arriving at Stevenson Square.

During the march, the crowd chanted “kill the bill” and “our streets”.

Meanwhile, the force defended its decision to later break up the protest after a small group sat down and blocked the tram in St Peter's Square.

Demonstrators during the 'Kill The Bill' protest against The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in St Peter's Square, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday March 27, 2021.
Demonstrators during the 'Kill The Bill' protest in Manchester city centre. (PA)

GMP said the group were repeatedly asked to move by officers, and partners from Transport for Greater Manchester, but some failed to comply.

Campaigners complained that officers used heavy-handed tactics, pushing and dragging people out of the area, although GMP cited the four Es approach of "Engage. Explain. Encourage. Enforce".

The force said: "In all events, we have used the 'four Es' approach, with a particular emphasis on engagement, to work our way through the challenges presented to us.

"Where this has been exhausted without success, we have moved to enforcement action where necessary.

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"We continually prioritise the assessment of risk, the disruption caused, and importantly the safety of the wider public throughout."

The force's response was backed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and his deputy Bev Hughes.

In a joint statement, they said: "GMP had to manage a challenging situation carefully and we did not see a repeat of scenes seen in other parts of the country recently."

Watch: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: What's in it and why it's caused controversy