Cost of policing National Front protest revealed

The march and counter protest in Wigan town centre
The march and counter protest in Wigan town centre

MORE than 70 staff were drafted in by GMP to keep a National Front march and counter protesters under control in Wigan town centre.

Greater Manchester Police revealed that 72 staff including officers, riot police, dog handlers and police liason officers were needed to keep the march, which was held on September 19, under control.

The figures, which were obtained by a freedom of information request, also showed that the march cost GMP an extra £371.38 in overtime to ensure enough police were present to prevent trouble.

In the FOI response, a spokesman wrote: “Most of the police officers on duty were on re-rostered rest days that formed part of their day-to-day core policing duties.

“However a small number of officers were paid overtime at a total cost of £371.38.”

The heavy police presence was required to keep trouble to a minimum at the planned march by members of far-right groups the National Front and North West Infidels who were protesting against immigration into the UK.

They were met by a number of anti-fascist protesters from organisations such as Hope Not Hate and the Liverpool Anti-Fascists who attempted to prevent the march from going ahead.

Despite their efforts, police officers formed a shield around the National Front protesters and led them around the town centre along a pre-planned route.

A number of missiles were thrown by both groups but police reported that the protests had passed off with minimal disorder and any incidents were dealt with swiftly by officers at the scene.

One man was arrested for a racially aggravated public order offence and later appeared in court as a result.

A GMP spokesman said: “Greater Manchester Police respects everyone’s democratic right to lawful protest.

“Officers monitor demonstrations and work with partner agencies to ensure that any protests pass peacefully and safely and with the minimum amount of disruption caused to the public.”