Dozen arrests at mass far-right protest rally

The EDL protest in Rotherham
The EDL protest in Rotherham
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There were ugly scenes as police officers and some protestors clashed as the far-right English Defence League descended on Rotherham in the wake of the damning report into child sexual exploitation.

The report revealed how 1,400 children in the town were subjected to horrors by largely Pakistani men including being raped, trafficked and assaulted in over a 16-year period and pointed to a failure on part of the authorities to deal with the scandal.

EDL supporters outraged at the abuse called for justice for the victims and for Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright to lose his job.

He was the Rotherham councillor with responsibility for children’s services for five of the years when the abuse is said to have occurred and he is now responsible for setting policing priorities in South Yorkshire and holding the county’s police force to account.

Eleven man and a woman were in custody overnight, including a 20-year-old from Mexborough, who was arrested on suspicion of causing damage to a mosque.

Around 800 supporters from the EDL took to the streets yesterday, with Unite Against Facism mounting a counter protest in All Saints Square.

Around 1,500 police officers were drafted in to police the protest.

Three Rotherham men - two aged 38 and one 34 - were arrested as well as a 44-year-old Rotherham woman, who was held on suspicion of causing racially and religiously aggravated fear of alarm and distress.

An 18-year-old, from the town, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer.

Two 26-year-olds were taken to hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries.

Officers were forced to drawn their batons at one flashpoint when a crowd started pushing officers and hurling missiles at them.

Metal barriers were pushed over and thrown at officers as a splinter group of EDL supporters left the march, but after 15 minutes of mayhem order was resumed and the protestors continued along the pre-arranged route to end up at Rotherham Main Street police station.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, of South Yorkshire Police, who said earlier that police “fully acknowledge our previous failings”, said: “The protests have passed with only sporadic outbreaks of disorder.

“I would like to thank all officers and partners involved in the operation for their professionalism leading up to the event and throughout yesterday.”