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Friday, 29 June, 2001, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Marches banned in race riot town
Riot police
Police requested extra powers after a week of trouble
Home Secretary David Blunkett has banned marches and outdoor meetings in Burnley following riots in the town.

He agreed to a request by Lancashire Chief Constable Pauline Clare to give police the special powers.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said they had taken the "unusual" step in conjunction with Burnley Borough Council.

Officers are currently investigating more than 150 crimes committed over four days of disturbances which saw pubs and cars firebombed.

Arrest threat

Assistant chief constable Steve Finnigan said: "This step has been taken to demonstrate that community safety is our top priority. It is not motivated by any bias for or against any political or social group.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett agreed to the police request
"We support the principle of public assembly which is aimed at constructive dialogue and peaceful debate.

"However the situation in Burnley in recent days has led the police and council acting together to take this unusual step."

People who do not respond to orders to move on by police exercising the special powers can be arrested.

Councillor Rafique Malik, who represents the area affected by the riots, said: "I think under the circumstances this action is most appropriate to protect life and property in the town.

"We hope it will help prevent any repeat of the violence."

Temporary ban

The powers were granted by the Home Secretary under two sections of the 1986 Public Order Act.

One prohibits "trespassory assemblies" - any gathering of more than 20 people - in a five mile radius of Abel Street and Yorkshire Street in Burnley until Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said the last time this piece of legislation was used was in Skegness at Easter to prevent travellers from meeting on the seafront.

An order made under another section of the Act bans public processions in Burnley until 27 September.

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See also:

25 Jun 01 | UK Politics
MPs condemn Burnley violence
15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'No no-go areas in Oldham'
25 Jun 01 | UK
In pictures: Burnley riots
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