Bradford police have moved tonight to reassure residents their safety will be paramount should a rumoured English Defence League (EDL) rally take place in the city centre.
Chief Superintendent Alison Rose, who heads the Bradford South division, was responding to internet rumours that the EDL has planned an event in Bradford on May 30. She said West Yorkshire Police had not yet been informed of the rally but she added: “If we do get information that people are coming to the city, West Yorkshire Police is a large organisation, with strong experience in policing events. I want to reassure the people of Bradford that their safety and peace is my number one priority.”
Concerns have been raised that violence could flare between the EDL and anti-fascist groups should the rally go ahead, bearing in mind the riots in the city in 2001. However, Chief Supt Rose said: “I worked in this city before the riots and I have come back to Bradford. I feel it is a completely different city. The way that the community has responded to neighbourhood policing, for example, is a real demonstration of how people want to get on and live in peace.
“Personally, I don’t think the community will allow something like this to damage all the hard work that has gone on. I will do my best to make sure that anybody who wants to damage those relationships are properly dealt with.”
West Yorkshire Police mounted one of its largest operations seen in Leeds when more than 200 EDL members held a rally in the city last October. Police kept a tight rein on the protesters and, despite tense stand-offs between the EDL and members of Unite Against Fascism group (UAF), there was relatively little trouble in the city.
Chief Supt Rose said: “We policed that very professionally and the EDL came and went. There was not the big upset that people expected and we would police any event in Bradford with the same proper resources and professionalism.”
Chief Supt Rose added: “From where I am at the moment, it will be a normal Bank Holiday weekend and we will be policing that weekend as normal.”
Telegraph and Argus