Merseyside police statement on the disturbance in Knowsley
Merseyside Police have released the following statement:
"We can confirm that a total of 15 people have so far been arrested following violent disorder in Knowsley last night, Friday 10 February.
At around 6.30pm, officers were facilitating a peaceful protest and counter protest at the Suites Hotel on Ribblers Lane in Knowsley.
Sadly, a short while later a number of people, who were not part of the original protest group, turned up, and it is clear that they were only interested in causing trouble through violence and intimidation without any thought, or care, for other members of the public, or our officers.
During the evening, missiles including lit fireworks were thrown at officers and one of our police vans was attacked by offenders, using hammers before setting it on fire.
An officer and two members of the public received slight injuries. The crowds dispersed and roads were reopened in the early hours of this morning, Saturday 11 February.
A total of 13 men and two women, between the ages of 13 and 54, have been arrested on suspicion of Violent Disorder and taken to police stations across Merseyside.
We are continuing to gather CCTV, drone and other evidence to identify all of those involved and put them before the courts.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, said: “A number of individuals who turned up at the Suites Hotel last night were intent on using a planned protest to carry out violent and despicable behaviour. They turned up armed with hammers and fireworks to cause as much trouble as they could and their actions could have resulted in members of the public and police officers being seriously injured, or worse.
“Indeed, one of my officers was injured in the line of duty, as were a number of members of the public, and it is only through luck that no-one was more seriously injured or worse. A police van was also put of commission as a result of being set on fire. All of those arrested will now be questioned and we will continue to gather all evidence as part of this investigation and our officers are continuing to examine CCTV footage in a bid to identify anyone else involved.
“We understand that prior to this happening last night there were rumours, and misinformation, being circulated on social media following an incident earlier in the week. I am mindful of the risks that rumour and speculation bring and want to reassure the public that we are aware of an incident which happened at the beginning of the week and an investigation is ongoing.
“Detectives are investigating reports of an incident which occurred in Kirkby on Monday, 6 February, when a man made inappropriate advances toward a teenage girl. This was reported by members of the public to police, but no victim was initially identified. Following enquiries, a man in his 20s, was arrested on Thursday, 9 February, in another part of the country on suspicion of a public order offence. A file was submitted to the CPS and on their advice he was released with no further action.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that this is very much an ongoing investigation, and we would urge anyone who witnessed this incident, or who has any information, which could help us bring the offender to justice, to come forward.
“Social media speculation, misinformation and rumour can actually damage the outcome of investigations and cause unnecessary fear and consequent behaviour, so I would continue to ask people to be mindful of the damage that such actions can cause. We understand the concern that an incident can cause but I can assure you that the investigation is ongoing and we are doing everything we can to bring the offender to justice.
“Violence is not the way to resolve this and we know that those involved in the violent activity last night used this as an excuse to commit violence and intimidate members of the public, who have a right to live their lives in peace and without fear. There is no excuse for the violence that was carried out last night and we will arrest anyone who fails to heed this advice. Extra officers will be carrying out high visibility policing in the area in to reassure local residents and to prevent a repeat of this behaviour and the Local Policing team are always available to listen to concerns within the community and act on them. A Dispersal Order will also be in place from 1pm today for the next 48 hours to ensure that intent on such action are removed from the area, and if they return may be arrested.
“Merseyside Police and our partners will not tolerate groups of people targeting this premises and causing fear and distress to those residents inside; and to the local community, as well as the violence towards police officers carrying out their duty.” "
Britain is still a free country, and those who have concerns about whether the conditions in which any group of people are housed are safe for them, or for local people, have the right to peaceful protest about it.
Furthermore, you don't have to agree with everything or indeed anything which peaceful it is wrong to assume that anyone who organises or takes part in such a peaceful protest is a "far-right extremist."
Those who hi-jack such protests and engage in violence and criminal damage are another matter entirely, and the Home Secretary was right to condemn their behavior.
If anyone reading this has any information either about the incident which led to the original protest, or about the violence which took place when the protest was hi-jacked, please pass that information on via @MerPolCC on Twitter or ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’ on Facebook, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If, for any reason, you do not wish to report a hate crime to the police, the independent charity Stop Hate UK to run a 24/7 confidential helpline for all victims of hate crime on 0800 138 1625 or www.stophateuk.org. You can also download the Stop Hate UK reporting app on Google Play or the Apple App Store.