Three people were arrested as far-right group the English Defence League and anti-fascist group United Against Fascism marched through Plymouth today.
The rally and counter-rally were heavily policed and passed without incident, according to city officers.
EDL estimated they had 200 people at the event although other reports put the figure between 120 and 150. UAF claimed to have 500 people at their counter-event although figures of 300 to 400 are reported. There were 400 police at the events.
Devon and Cornwall Police closely monitored both peaceful protests and ensured the communities of Plymouth were allowed to go about their normal business as much as possible. Traffic was kept moving in the city centre throughout the day by what officers described as 'a proportionate policing operation which was welcomed by the community'. The marches began shortly after 1pm and were completed by 3.30pm.
Superintendent Craig Downham said: “This was a considerable policing operation and my hope is that the public felt reassured by the number of police officers and PCSOs on the streets talking to them. Our aim was to lessen the impact of the marches as much as possible while allowing their right to peaceful protest. With only three arrests and no incidents of note, this should be deemed a success.”
Officers from Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire police were all involved in the operation which also involved mounted units from Avon and Somerset.
A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon, a 45-year-old man on suspicion of breach of the peace and a 25-year-old man for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of cannabis. All three men currently remain in police custody.
Supt Downham added: “We are experienced in policing large public events and today’s activity was no different. What it does do is give us a chance to test our operational capabilities as well as build on the close working relationship we have with our other forces regionally. It was a demonstration that we can deal with large numbers and keep our communities running as normal as much as possible, while ensuring people feel safe and supported throughout.”
This is Plymouth