EDL demonstration: Hundreds of police will be on duty

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Around 400 police officers will be on duty across Preston tomorrow when a planned English Defence League (EDL) demonstration takes place in the city centre.

Lancashire Police say they are expecting up to EDL 200 demonstrators.

In addition, a planned diversity event - One Preston, One Community - hosted by Preston and South Ribble Trades Council and United Against Fascism on the Flag Market at the same time as the protest, is expected to attract 500 people.

Supt Russ Procter, of Lancashire Police, said: “Preston as a city is very diverse, with lots of events going on.

“Tomorrow, there will be a protest in the city centre and that’s countered by a community event, which is a community celebration.

“We’ve also got a football match at Preston North End, with large numbers of home and away supporters attending that.

“It’s business as usual around the city centre and shopping centre, who want to remain open as usual.

“You’ll see additional police resources.

“Approximately 400 officers will be working right across Preston tomorrow.

“That includes the normal police officers, neighbourhood police operations across the community, local officers, the football operation and the protest and counter celebration in the city centre.”

He said there would be some disruption with road restrictions in place overnight tonight and into tomorrow.

These will include Earl Street, Birley Street and Old Vicarage Road.

Supt Procter added: “The police operation, together with the local city council, Preston North End and community, will look to minimise any issues across the city.”
He continued: “We’re anticipating 150 to 200 from the English Defence League.

“They will be travelling from around the north of England in small groups - we’ve got an operation around that to minimise any trouble.

“In the counter event there will be about 500.

“We’ve put some conditions in place under powers of arrest to support the event and minimise disruption.”

The EDL demonstration is due to take place in a defined area on Birley Street.

The counter demonstration will take place concurrently in a similarly defined area on the Flag Market.

The following conditions have been put in place:

For EDL demonstrators: Under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act, the following conditions apply.

They must not be breached or you may be liable to arrest and prosecution:

You must meet on Old Vicarage Road at 12.30 to walk to Birley Street.

Assemble on Birley Street between 1pm and 1.45pm.

Supt Procter said: “It’s a protest like we’ve policed across Lancashire many times.

“It’s a strain on resources because it’s a Saturday, a weekend, but we’ve policed many of these events and do anything we can to make sure it doesn’t disrupt anything.”

The weather forecast is for wind and rain.

Supt Procter said: “I think the weather will have an impact on the numbers turning out, it generally does.”

He said he was impressed with the “good liaison”, including that with the city council, that had taken place in the run up to the event.