English Defence League And UAF Protests To Be Policed By 1,000 Officers In Birmingham

More than 1,000 police officers will be on duty on Saturday to ensure public safety during a demonstration organised by the English Defence League. The rally in Birmingham city centre is due to go ahead at the same time as a counter-demonstration by members of anti-fascist groups, including Unite Against Fascism.

The Muslim Defence League posted on its Facebook page that members would also be attending the demonstrations.

An English Defence League supporter outside the Old Bailey in central London earlier this month

West Midlands Police have been working with Birmingham City Council to prepare for the "static" protests, which will take place in two public squares. Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe, who will be in overall command of the policing operation, said the force was being particularly vigilant in light of bomb attacks near mosques in the Black Country in recent weeks.

She said: "We recognise that people feel anxious about having these protests in our city, particularly after the recent events in Walsall and Tipton - and we believe that our resources would be better placed in local neighbourhoods, tackling local issues. Having said that, we have a duty to facilitate people's right to protest, so long as it is peaceful, regardless of whether the group's views are supported by the majority or not.

Rowe added: "We will have more than 1,000 officers on duty to ensure that the people who live, work, shop or visit Birmingham feel reassured and can go about their daily business in safety."

John Cotton, the community cohesion lead for Birmingham City Council, said: "People should go about their normal business and not allow the protest to undermine Birmingham's reputation as a city that champions tolerance, peace and understanding across all our neighbourhoods and communities."

On Friday, a freedom of information request revealed that demonstrations by the EDL have cost the British taxpayer more than £10m due to police patrolling.

West Midlands Police commissioner Bob Jones told the BBC that figures were a cause for concern, having spent more than £500,000 alone on multiple protest policing in Birmingham.