676 Officers To Police Cambridge Demo

8 July 2011, 11:57 | Updated: 9 July 2011, 16:37

676 officers will police the English Defence League's demonstration and a counter-protest in Cambridge tomorrow.

Police are expecting around 500 EDL members to protest, and around 500 Unite Against Facism (UAF) and Trade Union Council (TUC) members to stage a counter-demo.

Extra officers will be stationed at Cambridge's Railway Station, mosques and taxi ranks throughout the day.

While the protests are going on, a weekend of music and family entertainment called "The Big Weekend" is being held on Parker's Piece.

Inspector Robin Sissons, who is running the community operation, said: "We are committed to listening to these concerns and doing everything in our power to alleviate them. 

The increased patrols in and around the city centre are part of this work and the policing operation for the ‘Big Weekend’ event.

We will continue to work with our key community contacts to ensure people are aware of our plans and we are dealing with community issues.

For those planning on visiting the city this weekend, our message is clear, it’s business as usual.

We understand people may be concerned but there is nothing to suggest they are at risk.

There will be a police presence in and around the city centre on the day and we will have sufficient resources on hand to deal with a variety of circumstances."

This week local officers have been distributing public information leaflets in and around the city centre and attending various events and meetings to update local residents and businesses on the policing operation.

Inspector Sissons added: "Communities within the city have shown great strength and togetherness throughout the run up to this event and I am confident this will continue.

We want to make sure that any protest does not undermine the links that are growing between all those people who choose to make Cambridge their home, nor tarnish the city’s long and proud history of welcoming different cultures and communities."

More than 1,000 officers policed an EDL demonstration in Peterborough in December last year, when 11 people were arrested.

Meanwhile, the leaders of each political group on Cambridgeshire County Council have issued a statement.

It reads: "Cambridge and the County as a whole is a great place to live.

Much of what makes it great comes from the social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of the people who call Cambridgeshire home.

In this light, an EDL demonstration is simply out of place in Cambridge.

It is also an unwelcome distraction during The Big Weekend, when residents and visitors come together to celebrate life in and around the city.

As political leaders, we place value on the rights of people with different views from ours to voice their opinions.

But we also attach massive importance to residents and visitors being able to go about their business without concern and free from intimidation.

One of the most powerful messages we can all deliver is for everyone to go about their activities as normal.

We've worked closely with the Police and City Council to plan for Saturday.

Cambridge will be open for business.

We look forward to you joining us in the city at The Big Weekend and to enjoy everything else the city has to offer."