A large-scale policing operation is underway in Walsall town centre today (Saturday 29 September).
Supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) are planning to stage a static demonstration in the town centre, while groups in opposition to the EDL are also due to hold an event in the town simultaneously.
As on previous occasions, the police have no power to ban a static protest in fact the right to protest peacefully is a sign of a healthy democracy and West Midlands Police has a positive duty to facilitate that right.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, who is leading the policing operation, said: “West Midlands Police does not welcome this protest as we recognise that many people feel anxious about it being in the town.
“Like them, we believe that our resources would be better placed in neighbourhoods tackling the crimes which matter most to local people.
“However, we want people to feel reassured and in response to community concerns, we are staging a large-scale operation on the day to ensure that everyone who comes to the town centre, be it to take part in the protests, or to go about their day to day business, can do so in safety.
“Officers will be deployed throughout the town to provide a visible reassurance to retailers, shoppers and all those visiting Walsall.
“Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.
“People should go about their normal business and not allow the protest to affect them or undermine Walsall’s reputation as a harmonious town with many different cultures living alongside each other in peace. The policing operation will strive to ensure it remains that way.”
Updates regarding the policing operation can be found at: www.west-midlands.police.uk or by following @WMPolice on Twitter.