Lancashire authorities are taking advice from awardwinning police in Bolton ahead of this weekend’s planned English Defence League rally in Blackburn.
Up to 4,500 people are expected to turn up to the demonstration on Saturday which would make it even bigger than Bolton’s rally in March last year. The Victoria Square demonstration was one of the biggest EDL rallies in the country and Bolton police are now seen as experts in dealing with the challenges that such events present.
A team of Bolton police won the Karen Mulligan Award for Diversity in Action at the Greater Manchester Police excellence awards this year for their work ahead of the rally. Now Lancashire police have been taking advice from Bolton police to ensure that the demonstration passes peacefully. Representatives from Blackburn with Darwen Council have also been speaking to Bolton Council chiefs.
Sgt Steve Baldam, who played a key role in preparations ahead of Bolton’s protests, said: “The fact that the systems and protocols we were able to produce were such that they can now be taken on by the rest of the North West certainly makes us feel very proud.”
Blackburn police expect about 2,500 EDL protesters and about 2,000 counter protesters from Unite Against Fascism and the Muslim Defence League to show up on Saturday afternoon. Bolton EDL supporters are planning to travel to Blackburn by train for the demonstration.
Lancashire police Ch Supt Bob Eastwood said: “Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest. If anyone commits a criminal offence they will be dealt with fairly but firmly. The police will not tolerate damage to the town or acts of violence and I would urge anyone thinking of coming to Blackburn to attend either demonstration to bear this in mind.”
Thanks to Zaahid for the heads-up