Police chief’s futile bid to keep out EDL

West Yorkshire police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison visits Bailiff Bridge Community Centre and memorial park.
West Yorkshire police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison visits Bailiff Bridge Community Centre and memorial park.

THE top cop in West Yorkshire has been denied powers to restrict a far-right group’s protests in Calderdale.

Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Sir Norman Bettison has told the Courier he wrote to the Home Office after the English Defence League’s demonstration in Bradford last August, suggesting measures to minimise their impact on communities in his area.

But the Home Office turned him down.

“I have no power to stop them coming,” said Sir Norman, who was asked if he would consider stopping the group from protesting because of the massive cost to the force.

“After the EDL’s protest in Bradford nearly a year ago I wrote to the Home Office suggesting that they could put in controls,” he said.

His proposals including limiting the number of protesters who could come.

He questioned why an area that did not want the group to visit should have to put up with the disruption to the community, businesses and expense to the police and local authority.

But the response he received from the Home Office was that there was no likelihood of any restrictions.

Calderdale Council estimates the EDL’s last protest in Halifax, on July 9, cost taxpayers more than £140,000 - at least £1 for every adult in the district.

The Chief Constable was speaking during a visit to Bailiff Bridge Community Centre as part of the force’s Here for Good campaign.

He said he wanted to reassure people that neighbourhood policing will not be hit by the massive spending cuts being imposed on policing by the Government.

The force has spent three years building up strong teams across Calderdale, he said, and the message he wanted to spread is that they are here to stay.

Instead, he said, they will meet the budget cuts by looking at the “back room” side of the force, taking steps such as merging some services with other forces in Yorkshire.

He also praised the communities of Calderdale.

“People ask me why they didn’t see the troubles that were in London in Calderdale. I say I think that’s because there are really strong communities here where people respect each other.”