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Police thank community and partners for support in Wellington today

West Mercia Police has thanked the local community in Wellington after a planned protest took place in the town earlier today.

Around 50 people took part in the protest which took place at the Market Square in Wellington town centre.

There was also a counter protest with around 40 people attending.

Both groups dispersed around 3pm this afternoon.

There was an increased police presence in the town while the protest and counter protest took place to ensure public safety and disruption was kept to a minimum.

It was also necessary to close some roads in the town for a short while to ensure public safety.

The protest and counter protest both passed smoothly without incident.

Superintendent Tom Harding is the local policing commander for Telford & Wrekin.

He said: "First and foremost I want to thank our local communities in Wellington. I know the events today have had an impact on them and caused some disruption. I also know the majority of people don't want this happening here in their town and we have been approached by victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation who feel this is not something they wish to be associated with and is not a representation of their views.

"The right to peaceful protest is a democratic right which police do not have the power to ban. It is only if there is compelling evidence beforehand that there is a real threat of violent disorder and threat to public safety that an application can be made to the Home Secretary for an order prohibiting the event going head and on this occasion there were no legal grounds for this to happen. Our role is very much to act in a neutral capacity to facilitate a lawful and peaceful protest.

"There was an increased police presence in Wellington today, and people may think this was unnecessary but public safety is our utmost priority and it is important we can respond appropriately to any eventuality. Wellington is a small town and events such as this have a huge impact and it is important our communities know we are there to keep them safe.

"My local communities are my absolute priority and I am incredibly grateful for the support of our local residents, it is not something we ever take for granted and are very appreciative of. The support and cooperation we have had from local residents in Wellington both in the run up to the protest and today has been invaluable. I know we have really positive community cohesion in Wellington which is supported by strong local policing.

"I would also like to thank our partner agencies who have worked with us in the run up to this event, policing operations such as this are not down to police alone and we value the support we receive from local authorities and our partner emergency services.

"Finally, I would like to thank the police officers and staff on duty today for their utmost professionalism and commitment in ensuring this was a peaceful protest."

Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council's deputy leader, said: "I would very much like to thank the community in Wellington for their patience and support today and I am delighted that the event has passed off without major incident."

Published 12/05/18