Hundreds of extra police for EDL rally in Sheffield

EDL members  with their police escort at the junction of Paternoster Row and Howard Street in June
EDL members with their police escort at the junction of Paternoster Row and Howard Street in June

Police are being drafted in from across the country for a rally by the right-wing English Defence League in Sheffield on Saturday.

Hundreds of extra officers will be on duty for a demonstration at Sheffield Lane Top, which followed a provisional proposal - now dropped - to turn the former Pheasant pub in Barnsley Road into a mosque.

The cost of policing Saturday’s demonstration is estimated to be at least £600,000 and follows a similar amount spent last June on deploying 1,000 police officers when EDL members laid wreaths at the Barkers Pool cenotaph in memory of murdered Drummer Lee Rigby.

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright wants the Government to foot the bill for such rallies. “The cost of policing these two events alone is the equivalent of an extra 46 police officers for a whole year,” he said. “Just imagine what inroads we could make in cutting crime even further and protecting the vulnerable with those sorts of additional officers on the street.

“Local taxpayers’ money should be spent on policing local communities and local needs – not on these protest rallies.”

Supt Colin McFarlane said police did not have the powers to ban such assemblies without the approval of the Home Secretary and only when information suggests there may be serious violence or disorder. “This event does not meet the ban criteria.”

The local force would far sooner spend the money on local policing priorities “but we have no choice.”

The irony, he said, is that the disused pub is not being turned into a mosque. “ In fact, planning permission has been granted to turn it into a fast food outlet.”