Police response ‘justified’ one arrest made at EDL rally

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The police response to the EDL rally in Rotherham was ‘justified’, according to the senior officer in charge of the operation - as South Yorkshire was left picking up a £500,000 bill.

Chf Supt Jason Harwin, Rotherham District Commander, said there was ‘minimal disruption and no disorder’.

Just one arrest was made on the day, a 46-year-old man questioned following a fight involving half-a-dozen people outside Sheffield railway station on Saturday evening.

“It was an isolated incident,” said Chf Supt Harwin.

“It was drink-related and took place as individuals were leaving the city.

“From our side, the operation was the best it could have been.

“It was pleasing to see people still coming into town outside of the main protest time of 1pm to 3pm.”

He admitted shops and business chose to shut their doors, but added: “Ultimately it’s their choice. Clearly they understand that they have some responsibility for their staff as well as customers.”

Chf Supt Harwin added: “Our aim was to prevent disorder and keep people safe. 
The operation was justified by the fact that we achieved that.”

Last year, police spent more than £1.2m policing two EDL events in Sheffield.

The bill for the Rotherham protest, which saw 1,000 officers on duty, is expected to total £500,000.

“We have to respond to the information that we’ve got,” said Chf Supt Harwin.

“We’d rather be spending the money on something else, and because of the impact on local businesses, the last thing we need is one of these on an everyday basis, but we respect the democratic right to peaceful protest. We cannot ban such events.”