VIDEO: One arrest after rival demonstrations in Preston

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One person has been arrested after rival groups gathered in Preston city centre for demonstrations about immigration.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Flag Market this afternoon for an anti-refugee demonstration by the North West Infidels and a counter protest by members of the Lancashire Association of Trades Union Councils (LATUC).

Smoke bombs were thrown during the demonstrations and barriers were knocked down as the North West Infidels pushed forward.

Police said although there were a few “pockets of disorder” which they will be investigating, the day passed off largely without any major incidents.

They thanked people in Preston, the wider community and partners for their support and co-operation.

There was already a visible police presence as the counter demonstrators started to arrive in the area earlier this afternoon.

One of the smoke bombs thrown during the demonstration. Picture: Karl Child of www.karlchild.com/blind

One of the smoke bombs thrown during the demonstration. Picture: Karl Child of www.karlchild.com/blind

They initially gathered in their designated location on Harris Street, behind barriers and with a row of police vans and officers separating them from where the North West Infidels would be on the Flag Market.

They held up flags and placards and there were speakers who opposed the North West Infidels, saying they were “not welcome on the streets of Preston”.

Around 100 members of the North West Infidels arrived on the Flag Market at 2.10pm and stood behind barriers outside the Harris Museum.

Smoke bombs were thrown, causing loud bangs and smoke.

The counter demonstrators moved from Harris Street onto Cheapside to face the North West Infidels and both groups waved flags and placards and chanted.

There were rows of police officers on the Flag Market, some on horses, keeping the two groups apart.

Shoppers stopped to watch what was happening as the demonstrations continued on each side of the square.

After more than an hour, the North West Infidels became louder and pushed forward, knocking down the barriers.

Police officers rushed forward to contain demonstrators and mounted officers went into the group of North West Infidels.

They were led away from the Flag Market onto Church Street, where police officers and parked vans blocked the road while the North West Infidels left the area.

Some of the counter protestors moved onto Church Street before dispersing.

Afterwards, Peter Billington, secretary of LATUC, which organised the counter demonstration, said: “We are pleased because there was a big turnout of all ages and all communities in Preston.

“We thought it was very effective.”

The North West Infidels have declined to speak to the Evening Post.