Extra police for Scottish Defence League protest

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NORTHUMBRIA police says it has plans in place to respond to any issues that may arise when the Scottish Defence League descends on the town on Saturday.

Police will draft extra resources into Berwick for marches by the anti-Islamic group and its local opponent, Berwick United Against Fascism.

They say they have plans in place to respond to any issues, but insist that it is the responsibility of the groups involved to ensure they act in an appropriate and peaceful manner.

Officers said they would only intervene if this is not the case.

The Scottish Defence League (SDL) is an offshoot of the English Defence League, a far-right protest movement which opposes what it sees as the spread of ‘Islamism’ in the UK.

The Borders division of the SDL is planning the protest in Berwick this Saturday afternoon (February 16).

Posts on a Facebook group under the branch’s name contain a series of anti-Islamic references and seek to drum up support for the Berwick event.

In response to the planned march, new group Berwick United Against Fascism has formed, and arranged a demonstration of its own at 12 noon in the town centre.

Police have said that extra officers will be on duty in the town on the day of the marches.

Assistant chief constable Steve Ashman added: “Northumbria Police is aware of a planned protest in Berwick on February 16 and is monitoring the situation. We have plans in place to respond to any issues.

“We are fully aware of the potential impact of any demonstrations on the local business community and general public and will work to keep disruption to a minimum.

“The force has been working to engage with all the protesting parties to ensure everyone involved knows what is expected of them. We expect everyone to respect the rights of others on the day.

“It is the responsibility of the groups involved to ensure they act in a peaceful manner and we will only intervene if this is not the case.”

The SDL previously staged a march in Berwick, in April 2011.

Northumbria Police has said it will have an increased presence in the town on Saturday when members of both the Scottish Defence League and Berwick United Against Fascism descend on the town.




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