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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Police warning to Bradford-bound protestors (UK)

West Yorkshire Police chiefs have warned protesters that anyone involved in violence, disorder or racist behaviour in Bradford this weekend is liable to be arrested and prosecuted.

The warning was issued today as police confirmed the locations of two protests and a community celebration event to be held in the city on Saturday.

The protest by the far-right English Defence League will be held in the Bradford Urban Garden, on the site of Westfield’s mothballed shopping development.

Yesterday, the urban garden was closed to the public as work to prepare it for the EDL protest intensified. Asphalt has been laid over the garden’s previously-unmade pathways, while seats and bins have been removed from the area.

It has also been confirmed that a counter-protest by Unite Against Fascism and We Are Bradford will be held at Exchange Square by Bradford Crown Court.

Meanwhile, a community celebration event, called Be Bradford – Peaceful Together, will be held at Infirmary Fields in Manningham.

The celebration was originally planned to be held in the city centre but has been moved following concerns that its presence there might increase the possibility of violence.

Police said the two protests and one civic event, all of which start around lunchtime, will draw large numbers of people into the city from the morning onwards.

While West Yorkshire Police and Bradford Council are working to keep disruption to a minimum, it will mean a busier than usual city centre this Saturday, said a spokesman for the force.

Some traffic restrictions will be in place throughout the day and there will be a highly visible police presence, in order to reassure the public and ensure that attendees get to and from their events as quickly as possible, with minimum disruption.

Extensive fixed and mobile CCTV will also be in operation to further reassure the public and prevent and detect any criminal activity.

West Yorkshire Police said that, along with the Council, they had in a planning process with partners for many weeks and had detailed plans and sufficient resources to manage the events.

The spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police’s role is to facilitate peaceful protest. Anyone involved in violence, disorder or racist behaviour which is unlawful will be liable to arrest and prosecution.”


Does the ban mean that there will be no protests in Bradford on August 28?

No, there will still be protests in Bradford on August 28. Even though the Home Secretary has given her consent it does not prevent any static demonstrations taking place, which are still lawful provided they remain peaceful, as we have no legal powers to prevent them.

What events are planned for August 28?

Two groups, the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism have indicated they wish to protest in Bradford. A further event is now taking place at Infirmary Fields, Manningham.

What are the police doing about it?

West Yorkshire Police have considerable experience in planning for and managing such events. They are working with the Council and other partners to plan for all eventualities.

What is the Council doing about it?

The Council is working closely with the Police and other local organisations to plan and manage the protests. It is also listening to the views of local groups.

Why has the march been banned?

The Home Secretary has given her consent for the Council to impose an order banning any public processions, including marches, in Bradford District over the bank holiday weekend. The Council by itself has no powers to ban such protests without the consent of the Home Secretary. The Council sought permission after receiving a letter from the Chief Constable asking it to do so. The Chief Constable had to consider carefully all the public safety and human rights issues arising from any march, including the understandable concerns of the community, before deciding to apply to Bradford Council for an order prohibiting the holding of a public procession on August 28. The Council and the Police also listened to the views and concerns of a wide range of local groups and organisations before contacting the Home Secretary.

Will Bradford be safe on August 28?

The Police and the Council have been working together closely to plan for and manage any static demonstrations. Local people can have confidence in the Police and the Council maintaining public safety on the day and can be reassured that the city will be returned to normal very quickly.

Should I come into Bradford on August 28?

If you are coming into Bradford to shop or as part of your normal business, you should expect some disruption to the city centre. It will be busy and some roads will be affected, but as far as possible we wish to see business as usual. We do not want people to come into the city intent on confronting any protesters. Let the police handle the events.

I am worried about my own safety - what should I do?

If you are concerned now, before the event, please speak to your local police who will update you on the current situation. The Police and the Council want to reassure and support all communities and encourage them not to be provoked into reacting to the protests. There will be plenty of local police officers working on the day to reassure and assist you.

What will happen to those who commit damage or disorder?

West Yorkshire Police’s role is to facilitate peaceful protest. If anyone commits a criminal offence they will be dealt with fairly but firmly. The Police will not tolerate damage or acts of violence.

The Telegraph and Argus