Police officers drafted in from across the country for demonstrations in South Yorkshire

Police at a previous protest in Rotherham
Police at a previous protest in Rotherham
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Hundreds of police officers from across the country have been drafted in for two demonstrations in Rotherham this weekend.

Police chiefs have issued a warning ahead of the gatherings that 'criminality' at the demonstrations will not be accepted.

One group will meet at Main Street police station at 2pm, before marching to Rotherham Town Hall via Westgate and Ship Hill.

There will be speeches at the Town Hall at 3pm before the group marches back to Main Street and disperses by 4pm.

A counter demonstration will take place at Minster Gardens at around 1pm.

That group is expected to disperse by 6pm.

Officers will be issuing Section 35 dispersal orders to those they feel are likely to become embroiled in anti-social behaviour.

The orders will ban certain people from the town centre for a set period of time and anyone who breaches them faces arrest.

Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, Rotherham Commander, said: “We are acutely aware of the significant impact repeated protests have had on Rotherham, both the financial impact on businesses and the local economy, and the emotional impact on our local communities who feel intimidated and scared by continued protests.

“To this end, we want to make it absolutely clear that those attending the demonstrations in Rotherham on Saturday will be subject to strict conditions. Anyone who breaches those conditions could be arrested.

“We will be making use of Section 35 orders, which gives us powers under the Police and Crime Act to disperse anyone we believe intends to be involved in anti-social behaviour or crime.

“There will be hundreds of officers, from both South Yorkshire Police and forces across the country, in the town centre and surrounding areas. This is to offer our local residents and businesses visible reassurance, as well as allowing us to effectively manage any emerging issues of antisocial behaviour or crime.

“This significant policing operation takes valuable resources away from other investigations into serious incidents and crime not just in Rotherham, but across South Yorkshire, so we entirely empathise with our local community when we say we are also impacted by repeated protests in our region.

“We would much rather put these resources into investigating crimes against vulnerable people, but demonstrations have the potential to pose a risk to public safety and therefore we must have a policing operation in place to protect members of the public.”

Chief Supt Odell added: “There will be drugs dogs in place searching those taking part in demonstrations and I want to remind everyone attending that a Designated Public Place Order is in place across Rotherham that prevents alcohol being consumed in a public place. Anyone caught doing so will have their drinks confiscated and could face further action.

“Any crimes committed on Saturday will be dealt with robustly and be subject to a thorough investigation afterwards.

“We know that hate crime will be a key concern for members of the community locally. We’d urge anyone aware of such an incident to report this to one of the many referral centres so we can take action against those responsible.

“We are working closely with Rotherham Council and local businesses to try and minimise the impact of Saturday’s demonstrations and we will try to ensure that businesses can operate as normally as possible.

“We recognise the rights of those involved to peacefully protest but we will not tolerate criminal or antisocial behaviour.”