Police prepare for demonstration in Rotherham town centre

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Over 1,000 people are expected to visit Rotherham town centre today in protest.

An estimated 1,200 members of the English Defence League (EDL) are expected to march through the town between 1pm and 3pm, with United Against Fascism (UAF) holding a protest at the same time.

Other groups may also participate, though these details are still being confirmed.

Additional police officers will be on duty to ensure a peaceful protest and the safety of local residents and those taking part.

The protests are being held in response to a report issued last month detailing failings in the handling of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.

South Yorkshire Police Commander for Rotherham, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin (pictured), has thanked the public and local businesses for their co-operation in the lead-up to the protests.

He said: “People in Rotherham and beyond are understandably shocked by the revelations of recent weeks and want to express their concern and anger about what happened.

“There are victims of child sexual exploitation who were let down by us in the past - they did not receive the necessary protection and support they should be able to expect and we fully acknowledge our previous failings.

“The force is committed to tackling CSE and has taken steps to address this. We have requested an independent investigation into our handling of CSE and the Chief Constable is in ongoing dialogue with the Independent Police Complaints Commission to ensure any individuals and organisations found to be at fault are held to account.

“We respect an individual’s democratic right to protest and additional officers will be on duty to ensure a peaceful and safe protest for all. However, if people are attending with the intention of causing or participate in disorder, they will be identified and dealt with.”

The EDL demonstrators will gather at a muster point at the Town Hall at 1pm and then begin marching to Main Street at 1.30pm.

They will travel from the Town Hall, along Moorgate Street, onto Church Street, left onto Market Street, left onto Market Place, right onto Westgate, and will arrive at Main Street at around 2pm, where there will be speeches before they disperse at around 3pm.

UAF demonstrators will gather at All Saints Square at 1pm and then make their way to the Town Hall.

Road closures will be in place on the day and people are advised to plan their journeys in advance. Road closures are as follows:

Main Street (from the junction with Centenary Way to the Market Street junction)

Wilfred Street (at the junction with Westgate)

Moorgate Street (at the junction with Grove Street)

Westgate (at the junction with Main Street)

Diversions will be in place at Corporation Street, Moorgate Street (at the junction with Mansfield Road), and Canklow Road (at the junction with Old Sheffield Road).

The following roads will be closed for the duration of the marching phase only:

Westgate (junction with Wilfred Street)

Market Street (junction with Domine Lane)

As it’s part of the protest route and the final assembly point, the enquiry desk at Rotherham Police Station, in Main Street, will be closed from 9pm on Friday (12 September) and will reopen again at 8am on Monday (15 September).

Between 8am and 10pm on Saturday 13 September, and between 10am and 6pm on Sunday 14 September, enquiry desk services will relocate to Rawmarsh Police Station, In Green Lane, Rawmarsh.

Alternatively, the enquiry desk at Snig Hill Police Station in Sheffield city centre is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chf Supt Harwin added: “The event is likely to cause some disruption for local business and the public with road closures taking place for public safety. We will be looking to minimise any disruption where possible.

“I would like to thank everyone for their co-operation while this is ongoing and to know that we, with our partners, will strive to make the day as safe as possible.”

Standard barriers will be used in the town centre to help manage the demonstration and to maintain access for members of the public and business.

Anyone with any information about the demonstrations that could assist officers in their planning should contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident 709 of 5/9/14.