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By Harriet Ernstsons 23/05 Updated: 23/05 18:25
POLICE chiefs have slammed claims made by the English Defence League groups of Islamic paedophiles are operating in Redditch.
Supt Adrian Pass spoke out ahead of the group's plan to march through the town on Saturday (May 26).
Around 150 members of the EDL are expected to demonstrate in the town after claiming on social networking sites grooming rings were being run in the borough.
But Supt Pass said the allegations were 'absolute nonsense' as there was no evidence to suggest Islamic grooming or any other kind of sexual targeting of young girls by gangs was happening.
"We have no wish to give any semblance of credibility to these statements by repeating them but feel we have a duty to counter misinformation that has the potential to cause disharmony and unrest in the community."
He added an investigation began last summer after an incident reported to police involving a teenage girl approached by a man in a car. Following the investigation, a Birmingham man was charged and convicted of harassment and jailed for 18 weeks in April.
"Due to legal reasons we are not free to discuss all the details of that investigation other than to say we are satisfied the individual concerned had acted in isolation and was not involved in grooming.
"If the EDL or anyone else for that matter has hard evidence of any other illegal activities of this nature in the area then they should come forward and tell us. They have not done so and we have no information whatsoever to suggest that there is a wider problem in Redditch or anywhere else in North Worcestershire.
"Nevertheless the EDL have a right to express their views and have stated their intention to come to Redditch on Saturday. Our role will be to facilitate a peaceful assembly during Saturday's planned event and there will be a large-scale police presence in the town in order to achieve that. We will deal robustly with anyone who sets out to cause trouble."
"Local people can have the confidence in the police and partners maintaining public safety on the day and can be reassured that we will be working hard to ensure that the town returns to normal very quickly after the event."
Unicorn Hill and Church Green West will be closed to traffic from around 1.15pm as members proceed from Redditch railway station towards the bandstand for up to an hour of speeches, during which time the roads will be open. They will close again as the league makes its way back down to the station, with police estimating they will have left by 3pm.
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