City Prepares For Protests
A senior Sussex Police Officer has taken to You Tube to ask organisers of a counter protest in Brighton this weekend to get in touch. This is the statement published by the force
At lunchtime on Sunday 22 April the fifth annual March for England event will be held in Brighton. A counter-protest is being planned by a number of opposing groups.
Superintendent Steve Whitton of Sussex Police said: "We have been in discussion with the organiser for the March for England and have agreed a route from the railway station to Victoria Gardens where speeches will take place before the event closes.
"Engagement with opposing groups has been limited so far but we will continue to try to contact any such organisers to establish their intentions for the day. I would appeal to anyone who does want to protest to speak with police so that we can assist in giving everyone the right to peacefully protest while getting your voice heard.
"By letting us know your plans for the protest you will also be helping us to minimise the disruption to the city.
"I want to reassure the local community that Sussex Police is working closely with partner agencies in order to make sure it is business as usual in the city. We do not anticipate local businesses having to close down during the event.
"As in previous such events some disruption in the city centre is inevitable, particularly if both protest groups rendezvous at Brighton Railway Station and when the marches finish at Victoria Gardens. I encourage any counter protestors to go to Victoria Gardens as, for safety reasons, we will be restricting numbers at the railway station.
"There will be a strong and re-assuring but proportionate police presence in the city centre and we are working closely with British Transport Police and Brighton & Hove Bus Company to ensure minimum impact on the travel infrastructure in the city. Our officers are advising local residents, businesses and those planning a day out in Brighton that certain central areas may experience some temporary disruption as the march follows the proposed route. However, officers will continue to liaise with the community before and during the protest and we will be providing live updates on Twitter and the Sussex Police website.
"Most importantly, I would like to reiterate that Sussex Police's priority is public safety whilst allowing peaceful protest, minimising disruption to the city, local communities and businesses, preventing crime and disorder and providing a safe and secure environment for the protestors and the surrounding community.
"I am concerned that there may be some people attending this event whose intention is not to peacefully protest and whose behaviour will go beyond that which is acceptable. Last year there was some limited disorder, which we were able to contain. The policing response will continue to be firm but fair, and we will deal robustly with anyone whose behaviour goes beyond what is acceptable within the law.
"This event is an example of the way in the police service must professionally and objectively balance the competing and lawful rights of groups who are opposed to each other. Groups have every right to express their views peacefully in a democratic society, and it our job to help ensure that they can do just that."