Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 13:34 UK

Police discuss anti-Islam group

Police at the scene of the protest in Birmingham
Ninety people were arrested at a protest in Birmingham on 5 September

Police forces are meeting in Birmingham to discuss how to handle protests by an anti-Islamic extremism group.

Ninety people were arrested at a demonstration in the city on 5 September when English Defence League (EDL) members clashed with Muslims.

The group is planning a protest in Manchester on 10 October after the city council failed to have it banned.

The summit involves senior officers from West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Bedfordshire and Metropolitan forces.

West Midlands Police said the protest in Birmingham had been difficult to police because much of the planning was carried out over social networking internet sites.

'Flexible and adaptable'

It said the meeting would address how to tackle this issue and discuss whether new laws would help.

It said it was not able to ban the Birmingham protest because the EDL did not formally apply for permission and the law only allowed permission to be refused for marches.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe, of West Midlands Police, said: "It is important that all forces affected by this new kind of protest have an opportunity to discuss the operational implications.

"The aim is to shape a flexible and adaptable model for policing such events and to brief other forces on the changing intelligence picture.

"We will be sharing learning from previous operations and developing best practice, while also exploring whether current strategies used in other fields could be using in policing protest."

The EDL has staged about six demonstrations around England during the summer.

It is believed to have been founded following angry scenes in Luton in March when a group of Muslims protested as the Royal Anglian Regiment paraded through the town on its return from Afghanistan.



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SEE ALSO
Council fails to ban city protest
16 Sep 09 |  Manchester
Who are the English Defence League?
11 Sep 09 |  Magazine
Rival protesters clash on streets
05 Sep 09 |  West Midlands

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