Police warn of disruption and road closures during EDL demo in Rotherham

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Police chiefs are warning Rotherham residents to expect disruption and road closures when over 1,000 EDL supporters march through the town.

Around 1,200 people have signed up to an English Defence League demonstration in Rotherham on Saturday, which comes in the wake of a damning report into child sexual exploitation in the town by largely Pakistani men.

Some 1,400 children were groomed and abused by the men over a 16 year period, according to the independent report commissioned to look at the extent of child sex abuse in Rotherham.

Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police are said to have failed to act because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of the perpetrators.

EDL leaders are to march through Rotherham between 1pm and 3pm, with United Against Fascism holding a counter protest at the same time.

Other groups have also expressed an interest to participate, but details have not yet been confirmed.

South Yorkshire Police Commander for Rotherham, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, said: “People in Rotherham and beyond are understandably shocked by the revelations of recent weeks and want to express their concern and anger about what happened.

“There are victims of child sexual exploitation who were let down by us in the past - they did not receive the necessary protection and support they should be able to expect and we fully acknowledge our previous failings.

“The force is committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and has taken steps to address this. We have requested an independent investigation into our handling of child sexual exploitation and the Chief Constable is in ongoing dialogue with the Independent Police Complaints Commission to ensure any individuals and organisations found to be at fault are held to account.

“We respect an individual’s democratic right to protest and additional officers will be on duty to ensure a peaceful and safe protest for all. However, if people are attending with the intention of causing or participate in disorder, they will be identified and dealt with.”

The EDL demonstrators will gather at the Town Hall at 1pm and then begin marching to Main Street at 1.30pm.

They will travel from the Town Hall, along Moorgate Street, onto Church Street, left onto Market Street, left onto Market Place, right onto Westgate, and will arrive at Main Street at around 2pm, where there will be speeches until 3pm.

UAF members will gather at All Saints Square at 1pm and then make their way to the Town Hall.

Because Rotherham’s Main Street police station is along the route the enquiry desk will be closed from 9pm on Friday and will reopen again at 8am on Monday.

Between 8am and 10pm on Saturday and between 10am and 6pm on Sunday enquiry desk services will be available at Rawmarsh Police Station, Green Lane, Rawmarsh.

Chf Supt Harwin added: “The event is likely to cause some disruption for local business and the public with road closures taking place for public safety. We will be looking to minimise any disruption where possible.

“I would like to thank everyone for their co-operation while this is ongoing and to know that we, with our partners, will strive to make the day as safe as possible.”