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April 15, 2021

UK tuition fees protest violence unacceptable, says PM

David Cameron has condemned the violence that broke out during protests over tuition fees after the Met Police announced an investigation into how it was handled. According to BBC, the prime minister said the clashes in central London, which led to 50 arrests and 14 injuries, were “unacceptable”. Seven police officers were among those hurt during the protests outside Conservative Party headquarters at Millbank, Westminster, on Wednesday. Windows were smashed, fires lit and missiles thrown at police after a group of protesters broke away from the main demonstration against a planned rise in university fees. Cameron said he had watched events unfold from Seoul, where he was attending a G20 summit, and had been concerned. “I was worried for the safety of people in the building because I know people who work in there, not just the Conservative Party, but other offices as well, and so I was on the telephone.” Scotland Yard said all 50 of those arrested had now been released on bail until February while police continued inquiries and looked at CCTV evidence. The majority were being held for criminal damage and aggravated trespass. The National Union of Students (NUS) said about 50,000 people joined the demonstration, but according to Scotland Yard, only 225 officers were initially drafted in to police it because no trouble was anticipated. Hundreds of coachloads of students and lecturers travelled to London from across England for the demonstration in Whitehall, with 2,000 students also travelling from Wales and a further 2,000 from Scotland. As well as higher fees, they were protesting against plans to cut higher education funding by 40 per cent and to all but wipe out teaching grants except for science and maths. But the PM said he would not abandon his plan to reform tuition fees and allow some institutions to charge up to £9,000 a year.

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