Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Ban urged on right-wingers' march

Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, called for a blanket ban on marches in Bradford on August 28

A chief constable is applying for a blanket ban on marches in a city on the day of a planned protest by the right-wing English Defence League (EDL).

West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison said he was taking the action after considering the "understandable concerns of the community" in Bradford ahead of the event planned for Saturday August 28.

Unite Against Fascism is planning a protest in the city centre on the same day in response to the EDL demo.

Sir Norman said he will apply to Bradford Council for the prohibition. The council would need the permission of Home Secretary Theresa May to enforce the ban.

The move follows a high-profile campaign in the city to stop the EDL march, with some commentators saying they fear it could provoke a violent reaction to rival the riots which shook the city nine years ago. But the chief constable stressed that a ban on marching would not stop either group holding a static protest.

In a statement, Sir Norman said: "Having carefully considered all the issues arising from any planned or unplanned march by protesters in Bradford on August 28, including the understandable concerns of the community, I have decided to apply to Bradford Council for an order prohibiting the holding of a public procession in Bradford on that day.

"We must, however, be clear in the distinction between the application for a ban to march, and the fundamental right to hold a static protest.

"If the Home Secretary agrees to a ban, it does not prevent static, visible, demonstrations taking place. But I believe that this would be less disruptive to residents of Bradford, and would enable the force to better manage the operation. We will continue to try to talk to all those who plan to demonstrate in Bradford and advise anyone intent on causing trouble to stay away."

The chief added: "Assistant Chief Constable Mark Gilmore is in command of what is going to be a complex policing operation. He is working with colleagues in Bradford City Council and the local community to ensure that plans are in place to maximise public safety. I ask the people of Bradford to support the policing operation and avoid confrontation on the day.

"Whatever the outcome of the application for a ban, the police's role on the day will be to enable any peaceful protest to take place but we will not tolerate damage to the city, or violence."

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