Attempts to ban Rotherham abuse protests stall

The Britain First protesters in Rotherham in October
The Britain First protesters in Rotherham in October
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Attempts to ban extremist groups from demonstrating in Rotherham have stalled, The Star can reveal.

Rotherham Council commissioners wrote to the Home Secretary in May saying they were planning to make a joint submission with South Yorkshire Police asking for special powers to outlaw demonstrations by groups such as the EDL and Britain First.

They wanted to be granted powers under the Public Order Act allowing the banning of public marches of an initial period of up to three months.

But it has now been revealed the Home Office has indicated the legal criteria to request a ban has not been met – with no official application being made as a result.

The council said today it remained in ‘ongoing discussion’ with the Home Office about the matter.

Details were revealed in a report by the Government-appointed commissioners on progress at the authority since they were parachuted in following the damning report by Louise Casey into the council’s failings.

It follows revelations that £4 millio n has been spent policing 20 demonstrations in South Yorkshire since 2012 – including 14 in Rotherham, where at least 1,400 victims of child sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013.

The Rotherham Council report said attempts to bring in restrictions to stop marches have been blocked.

It said: “This spring and summer has seen a continued series of demonstrations by far right extremist groups.

“This has a significant impact on the town centre, on local businesses and on feelings of safety of local residents.

“South Yorkshire Police have been developing their tactical approach to provide a robust response to these and to mitigate the disruption to the town and to the anxiety of residents.

“The council and the SYP are monitoring this closely with a view to establishing grounds for a restriction on the current level of disruption the town experiences.

“Commissioner Ney has written to the Home Secretary on this matter.

“To date the criteria for any intervention by the Home Secretary has not been met.”

Commissioner Mary Ney said: “We remain concerned about the effect that repeated demonstrations are having on the borough, but the position remains that they have not yet met the legal criteria to request a ban.

“We are, however, in ongoing discussion with the Home Office about this issue, and we will continue to keep the Home Secretary informed of the impact of demonstrations on Rotherham.”

Policing Minister Mike Penning said no application for a potential ban has been received.

He said: “The police have a range of powers to deal with demonstrations and can apply for a ban on marches through the Public Order Act 1986.

“No such application regarding this case has been received.”