Police ‘failed to notice change in mood’ ahead of Rotherham clashes after Britain First rally

The Britain First protesters in Rotherham
The Britain First protesters in Rotherham

Police in Rotherham failed to anticipate a ‘change in mood’ in the town’s Muslim community due to a racist murder ahead of clashes at a Britain First march, a new report has said.

A review into policing protests in Rotherham has examined the tactics used by South Yorkshire Police during demonstrations by the far-right group and counter-protesters on September 5.

The protests occurred shortly after the murder of 81-year-old Muslim pensioner Mushin Ahmed.

Nineteen men have been charged with violent offences - with one pleading guilty - after clashes between rival groups in Rotherham centre.

The review, ordered by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings and conducted by solicitor Andrew Lockley and Imam Mohammad Ismail, was ordered following an organisation called British Muslim Youth calling to withdraw cooperation with the police.

It said 11 protests have taken place in Rotherham since the publication of the Jay report in August 2014, which said at least 1,400 children had been victims of child sexual exploitation in the town, with most offenders coming from the Pakistani community.

The report said far-right groups have attempted to ‘portray all Muslims as guilty of the perceived crimes of a small section of that community’.

The report said prior to Mr Ahmed’s murder, local people had ‘held back’ from counter-demonstrations.

It said: “There does appear to have been a failure to appreciate the scale of the change in mood of the local Muslim community in advance of September 5.

“Police did not appear to anticipate until late on that the numbers who would turn out to oppose Britain First would be greater than on previous occasions of far-right marches and from a much wider cross-section of the community.”

The report has suggested an advisory panel should be established in the town ahead of further marches.