The police operation to keep apart the English Defence League and anti-fascist demonstrators in Sheffield city centre will cost about £500,000, it was revealed this week.
About 1,000 officers from ten different forces were deployed as more than 500 EDL supporters and the group’s leader, Tommy Robinson, came to lay a wreath at the war memorial in Barkers Pool ‘in memory’ of soldier Lee Rigby, who was murdered in Woolwich.
Opponents confronted the EDL in Barkers Pool, while many more were in the Peace Gardens on Saturday for the ‘One Sheffield Many Cultures’ event to celebrate the city’s multicultural’s identity.
Two police officers received minor injuries in scuffles. One was hurt in trying to keep apart EDL and protesters in West Street, after the wreath had been laid.
Five arrests were made on suspicion of assault and public order offences.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said Saturday “went brilliantly from a policing perspective”.
But he said that the cost, estimated at around £500,000, was an unwanted expense at a time when budgets were stretched, and that the protests proved “incredibly disruptive to the city centre”.
The EDL returned to Sheffield after being stopped from laying a wreath the previous weekend. Yorkshire regional organiser Scott Walker said: “I think the event went really well.”
But Paul Scarrott, secretary for Sheffield Unite Against Fascism, said: “Thousands of people stood united to proudly celebrate and defend multicultural Sheffield.”
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said thousands of local people in the Peace Gardens “sent a clear message to the EDL - your attempt to promote hatred and division isn’t welcome in Sheffield”.