Police Plans For EDL Assembly In Redditch Town Centre
West Mercia Police have released more details about what the public can expect as they prepare to police tomorrow's (Saturday, 26 May) assembly in Redditch Town Centre by the English Defence League (EDL).
Police and partners including Redditch Borough Council began planning for the event after local supporters of the EDL stated their intention to gather in the town during the afternoon.
Today (Friday, 25 May) officers disclosed more details of the plans put in place to ensure that the event remains lawful and peaceful and how they intend to move protesters around the town.
EDL supporters are due to gather tomorrow outside the railway station at 1pm and at around 1.15pm will make their way up Unicorn Hill for an assembly at the bandstand in Church Green West. Speeches will last for no more than an hour before those attending take the same route back to the rail station, dispersing at around 3pm.
Unicorn Hill will be closed temporarily to traffic from both ends while EDL supporters are on their way to Church Green West and walking back afterwards.
Police have identified a number of locations where they will focus their patrols and a number of community representatives will act as key contacts on the day to ensure people are kept informed of the policing operation.
Police commander for North Worcestershire, Superintendent Adrian Pass, said that a significant policing operation had been planned to ensure that the EDL's protest remained peaceful and that the town returned to normal as soon as possible afterwards.
Officers from neighbouring forces and British Transport Police are lending their assistance.
Superintendent Pass said: "Our role is to facilitate peaceful assembly on the day and that the people involved can exercise their democratic right to free speech while causing as little disruption as possible to those not involved, who want to go about their business as usual.
"EDL supporters have the right to express their views but we totally refute the claims they have made that Islamic grooming or paedophile gangs are operating in Redditch. They say this is why they are coming to the town but there is no evidence to support the statements they have made. If they have information concerning illegal activities they should come forward and tell us but they have not done so.
"Although we will be setting out to be as proactive as possible tomorrow and nip any trouble in the bud, if problems arise or the assembly does not remain peaceful we have additional officers standing by.
"I would like to make it clear that we will prosecute any individuals who use the right to demonstrate as an excuse to act unlawfully and that we have significant measures in place to ensure any such behaviour is dealt with swiftly and robustly.
"I would also remind people that extensive CCTV recording equipment is in operation throughout Redditch Town Centre which will allow us to monitor the event and identify any individuals guilty of breaking the law.
"Although significant resources will be utilised for this operation I would reassure people that we will have sufficient officers working throughout the rest of North Worcestershire and the wider force area to deal with business as usual."
Issued: Friday, 25 May 2012