Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 20:53 UK

Nine arrested over rival protests in Dudley

Police lead the EDL rally into Dudley
Police lead the EDL rally into Dudley

Nine people were arrested during rallies by the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism in a Black Country town.

The two groups organised demonstrations in Dudley, West Midlands, which resulted in the market closing and shops being boarded up.

There were "brief outbreaks of disorder" with barriers knocked over.

Some EDL supporters broke away as they were being taken back to coaches but were "quickly contained", police said.

About 2,000 people took part in the demonstrations.

Five people were arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.

Two more people were arrested on Friday evening on suspicion of causing damage to a wall beneath a bridge in the town, while another two were arrested for public order offences.

'Additional heat'

Ch Insp Mark Payne said police knew who some of the main protagonists were.

"As part of the preparation we have made some arrests overnight to deal with some people who might be placing additional heat on the demonstration.

"We look very closely at who we think it is going to cause trouble and we have people on the ground who will be able to indentify them to local officers," he said.

Police said they had met with organisers from both groups prior to the demonstrations.

English Defence League supporters make their way into Dudley
English Defence League supporters making their way into Dudley

Unite Against Fascism began its protest during the morning with the EDL one getting under way in the afternoon.

The EDL said one of its issues was the building of a "mega mosque" in Dudley which the council had opposed on planning grounds but which was permitted by the government.

The council said it had closed the market following discussions with traders.

Police said it did not welcome the EDL protest in Dudley, but was committed to making sure it was peaceful.

"Disorder and violence will not be tolerated," a spokesman said.

Seventy-four people were arrested during a protest in Bolton in March and police made several arrests at a protest in Stoke-on-Trent in January.

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