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Police chief speaks out over EDL protests

Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton who has said far-right groups should be prevented from staging protests as the cost of policing them is too high. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton who has said far-right groups should be prevented from staging protests as the cost of policing them is too high. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

  • by Polly Rippon
 

Far-right groups should be prevented from staging protests as the cost of policing them is too high, according to South Yorkshire Police’s top officer.

Chief Constable David Crompton said the legislation regarding peaceful assemblies needed to be looked at.

He was speaking out after the EDL threatened to stage a protest in Rotherham every month, following a recent protest in the town, which forced businesses to close.

Mr Crompton said each protest cost his force £500,000, money he would much rather spend on something else.

He said: “Either somebody changes the law so that it’s less easy to do this or alternatively there are some funds available that we can tap into.

“As it stands, we have a lot of power over marches but we don’t have in any way the same control over assemblies.”

He said they needed to look at options which would place restrictions on the right to assembly, but he also recognised it was a touchy subject and was connected to freedom of speech.

There have been three protests by the English Defence League in the last 18 months.

The law states that, under the Public Order Act 1986, chief officers may impose conditions on assemblies to prevent serious public disorder, serious damage to property, or serious disruption to the life of the community.

The directions can relate to the duration, location and size of any demonstration but the police have no powers to ban static assemblies in public places.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society, provided it is conducted within the law.

“But protesters’ rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation or serious disruption to the community.

“The management of demonstrations is an operational matter for the police. 
“Forces can apply for a special grant to cover significant and exceptional events which threaten their financial stability.”

 
 
 

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