WORCESTER’s most senior police officer has called on all those planning to attend the English Defence League (EDL) protest march against a proposed new mosque for the city to ensure the event passes off peacefully.
Chief Supt Mark Travis of West Mercia Police issued the call ahead of the planned march on Saturday and the expected counter protests against the far-right group in a bid to reassure city shoppers the force is prepared for the demonstration.
Three people were arrested and two police officers were injured at the last EDL march in Worcester on July 21. In a statement on their website, the EDL branded the march a ‘defeat for free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, police trust and the democratic process.”’
However police chiefs have confirmed they have spoken to all the groups involved in Saturday’s demonstrations in order to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and a ‘proportionate’ policing response is on show.
“We are aware of, and understand, the concerns amongst our local communities surrounding the planned demonstrations.
“However, I am confident we have the appropriate resources in place to manage such peaceful protests and the safety of all involved,” Chief Supt Travis said.
“I can assure people in Worcester the police are working with other agencies and partners and we are prepared for this event. Protecting our communities and businesses from harm remains our absolute focus.”
“We will continue to constantly monitor and review the intelligence, including community intelligence and concerns, surrounding the planned event.
“The right to peacefully protest is a fundamental democratic right and our role is to prevent any crime and disorder and ensure a proportionate policing response is put in place.”
A joint statement by Worcester in Solidarity, People in Motion and Stand Up To Racism said: “Worcester is a diverse city where we live peacefully alongside people from many different faiths, countries and backgrounds.
“We are coming together to stand in solidarity with them all against those who wish to create division,” the statement added.
The EDL will meet in Angel Place and follow a route through Worcester ending in the Cornmarket car park where a number of speeches will be delivered.
The Cornmarket car park and Silver Street car parks will be closed from 6pm on Friday (August 31) until the end of the demonstrations on Saturday at 5pm.
Temporary road closures and diversions could be in place on the day should these be required.