West Midlands Police are planning for another anti-mosque protest in Dudley next month.

A previously unheard of group – calling themselves All Football Fans / Firms March Against Islamisation (AFFFMAI) − have said that they intend to march through Dudley town centre on Saturday 13 June in protest at the building of a replacement mosque.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Dudley is used to seeing protests and the police are used to dealing with these operations in a professional and calm manner.

“Dudley is a diverse borough, in which people from different backgrounds and cultures get on and work together well.

“In our region we respect the values of each other and the right that we all have to worship freely in whichever way we chose.

“The right to peacefully protest will be protected, but we expect everybody who visits the area to respect local people and their right live in harmony.”

“People have a right to protest and West Midlands Police has no power to ban static peaceful protests,” said Chief Superintendent Chris Johnson, responsible for policing across the Dudley borough.

“At this time no written notice to hold a public procession has been given by AFFFMAI, which is a legal requirement.

“When or if the group give such written notice, it will be considered in the usual way by members of the multi-agency Dudley Safety Advisory Group.”

Holding a public procession without giving advanced written notice in these circumstances may result in a fine for the organisers or may lead to the organisers committing a criminal offence.

The force expects counter-protests from groups opposed to AFFFMAI’s presence in the town.

Talking about the planning for the day, Chief Supt Johnson said: “In the run-up to the date, we will hold a series of public meetings to share all of the latest information with local people and traders.

“The feedback from these meetings will be used to shape the policing operation.

“Comments from similar meetings ahead of the Britain First protest in May resulted in the Chief Constable using special powers to slightly alter the route of the procession to minimise the impact on the town.”

While the force has no power to ban static protest, West Midlands Police can apply to the council for an order prohibiting the holding of all or any class of public processions in the district concerned. The council may then, with the consent of the Home Secretary, make an order to prohibit a public procession.

Banning a public procession is justified only in extreme circumstances where there is a very real threat of serious public disorder which cannot be prevented by other stringent measures.

“At this time there is no evidence that there will be serious public disorder. In fact organisers have made repeated calls to their followers for this to be a peaceful event,” added Chief Supt Johnson.

Officers continue to speak with the organisers − and others – to understand more about the proposed event. It is know that the group would like to walk the route taken in previous protests and the timings are likely to be between 12pm and 2pm.

Allaying fears about online claims of several thousands of people attending, Chief Supt Johnson said: “Although there are no fixed numbers at this time, two previous protests have attracted significantly fewer attendees than organisers claimed would attend.

“West Midlands Police’s well-rehearsed protest plans are flexible and the force will have the necessary available resources to safely manage any size turn-out.”

At this stage of the planning process there are no plans for any road closures or traffic diversions.

The words and actions of all protesters will be closely monitored on the day with officers facilitating people’s right of freedom of speech yet ready to take action against those whose who overstep the mark and commit a criminal offence.

People with concerns or questions about the operation should call police on 101 or the dedicated protest line on 07824 824 468*.

Dudley Council can be contacted on 0300 555 2345.

For up-to-date information on the day of the protests follow @DudleyPolice on Twitter or visit: www.west-midlands.police.uk

Public Meeting Dates:

• Wednesday 3 June 2015 – 6pm at Council House, Priory Road, Dudley.

• Wednesday 10 June 2015 – 6pm at Council House, Priory Road, Dudley (subject to public demand).

*This line will close at 9pm on Saturday 13 June 2015.

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