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3,000 cops to flood East End over EDL protest

PUBLISHED: 10:42 01 September 2011 | UPDATED: 17:42 01 September 2011

A stronger police presence is hoped to prevent any trouble on Saturday

A stronger police presence is hoped to prevent any trouble on Saturday

2010 Getty Images

»More than 3,000 extra police officers will be deployed on Saturday to deal with any threat from the English Defence League (EDL).

Scotland Yard is treating a planned protest from the right-wing extremist group as a “major event of significance” for London and has many more officers poised to swoop on Tower Hamlets on any sign of disturbance.

In a victory for police, politicians and anti-fascist groups, the Home Secretary last week imposed a ban on marches in Tower Hamlets. But, by law, the group can still hold a static protest.

In light of the London riots and in a bid to reassure the community, Scotland Yard has enlisted its elite Public Order Branch to counter any threat of violence.

Tower Hamlets police borough commander Det Ch Supt Paul Rickett said he pressed for the ban to “prevent serious disorder” and felt it was the right course of action after close talks with community groups.

The ban applies to any organisation planning to march in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington and the City and lasts for 30 days from tomorrow (Friday).

Mr Rickett said: “Over this weekend, you can expect to see extra police on duty in all of the boroughs to offer reassurance to local communities. Anyone who comes to organise or take part in a march will be committing an offence and risks arrest.”

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, who led a 25,000-strong petition for the ban with campaign group Hope Not Hate, urged people to remain “calm and level- headed”.

‘Turn our backs’

She said: “I don’t want the EDL in my constituency in any form, but the best answer is to turn our backs on these people and let the police deal with them.”

As the EDL is still planning to come to Tower Hamlets, some campaigners, including Unite Against Fascism, are planning a peaceful counter protest.

UAF’s joint national secretary Weyman Bennett said his group’s response will be “one of dignity”.

He added: “We want to make this a celebration of our multi-cultural, multi-faith community.”

But some politicians have raised concerns about the static protests and police are urging people to stay at home.

Labour’s Greater London Assembly member for the City and East London, John Biggs, said: “I’m concerned there is a considerable risk but it will be managed as a major event of significance for London.

“It will be well policed and we should show we have the better ideas by not rising to the provocation.”

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