West Midlands Police briefed city centre businesses this morning on some possible demonstrations on Saturday, September 5. I attended as a residents’ representative (possibly the only one?).
The pattern of these demonstrations looks similar to those held on July 4 and August 8. No-one has approached the police to agree the arrangements but messages on Social Networking websites (Facebook and YouTube) have proposed gatherings just as happened before.
Because the police have not been approached, they cannot exercise the various controls that they customarily use for demonstrations that routinely occur in the city centre. Therefore they have tried to prepare using such as intelligence information as they have and by building on the experience gained during the previous events.
The Facebook/YouTube messages talk about “6pm in Birmingham city centre” – from one party – and “if you are there at 6, we will be too” – from the other. Football supporters have figured in some of the disturbances in the past. The highest profile game on Saturday is the England international which kicks-off at 5.30. Therefore the police are viewing the publicised times with some scepticism.
Today’s briefing was rather limited because the police prefer to keep their options open till nearer the date pending later intelligence information. When asked how they can prevent the degree of interference which residents faced on August 8, the straight answer was “we can’t prevent it but we intend to do better at controlling the break-up of the focussed demonstrations”.
They announced a further briefing at Steelhouse Lane police station on Saturday morning, 10.30. Residents who couldn’t get to this morning’s meeting may wish to take advantage of this opportunity to quiz the police on how their interests will be protected.
Chair, City Centre Neighbourhood Forum