The ‘£300,000 price’ of policing protesters rallies

First published in News

THE bill for policing the EDL and UAF protests in Bolton town centre is expected to hit the £300,000 mark.

Police chiefs put 1,300 officers on to the streets of Bolton to deal with the rival demonstrations.

The figure was revealed as Greater Manchester Police condemned demonstrators who targeted police lines and barriers and tried to break away from designated protest areas. A significant number of protesters from both sides, intent on causing disorder, attempted to break free from their agreed sites.

Large numbers of police officers, including mounted officers and dog handlers, were needed to maintain order.

More than 3,500 protesters descended on Victoria Square. Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “Everyone has a democratic right to protest.

“We respect that right and spent nine weeks meticulously planning this event to ensure a demonstration could go ahead safely.

“What we were faced with was hostility and aggression aimed directly at the police and it is clear a large number came to Bolton, not to protest peacefully, but to cause disorder.”

Members of UAF — Unite Against Fascism — have complained about police tactics and accused GMP of being heavy handed, but Mr Byrne said: “I strongly refute any allegations that officers were heavy handed.

“Had it not been for the thorough planning and sheer bravery of officers on the day — who prevented what was a clear attempt to cause serious disorder—many people could have been very seriously injured.

Insp Tony McRobbie, of the Tactical Aid Unit, added: “In my 20 years of policing I have never met two groups who were so hostile. As the numbers swelled on both sides it got antagonistic.”

Officers from GMP’s Major Incident Team are reviewing CCTV footage from Saturday in an attempt to identify people involved in inciting or committing disorder.

Two police officers were treated for minor injuries, as were five protesters.

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