Senior police officers are warning they will not tolerate any violence as a far-right group prepares to rally in Manchester
The English Defence League, which campaigns against radical Islam, is staging the latest in a series of protests in the city on Saturday. On the same day, and in the same city square, Unite Against Facism will lead a counter-demonstration. Greater Manchester Police believe at least 500 people will gather in Piccadilly Gardens, close to the city centre.
Chief Superintendent Gerry Donnellan said: "While we respect people's right to protest peacefully, the safety of the community is paramount and anyone who behaves in a way which might create disorder or disrupt people going lawfully about their business will be dealt with. Anyone who would want to exploit this demonstration by behaving in a criminal, racist or anti-social way will be dealt with appropriately."
The EDL denies accusations made by anti-facist groups that it is affiliated to the BNP or National Front.
Previous demonstrations involving the EDL and UAF have descended into violence. The most recent in Birmingham was billed as a peaceful protest - but it quickly turned nasty and both sides blamed each other for the fighting. After the disturbances West Midlands Police questioned whether an organised peaceful protest was really the objective of those attending.
Greater Manchester Police say they have monitored previous demonstrations and have been talking to organisers from both sides for some weeks to ensure Saturday's protests pass off as peacefully as possible.