Thursday, 6 May 2010

Community Message

This is a Community Message from Supt Richard List, LPA Commander, Thames Valley Police, Aylesbury Vale.

The protest by the English Defence League and Unite against Fascism has now passed. The biggest police operation in the history of the Aylesbury Vale has now come to an end.

I know it was a great relief to you all when Father Shane Wood was able to ring the bells of St Marys Church in Aylesbury, formally announcing to us all that Aylesbury was back to its peaceful normality.

The event in Vale Park which was arranged by Unite against Fascism passed peacefully. About 800 English Defence League supporters gathered in Aylesbury Market Square during the afternoon of Saturday 1st May. This was generally without incident although violence and disorder did break out as their supporters began to leave the town centre. This was quickly contained by police officers with the assistance of dogs and horses. It is a great pity that some violence did occur but I feel that these scenes fully justified the police response. Throughout the day, twelve people were arrested for carrying offensive weapons and public order offences.

This protest did cause a great deal of disruption to Aylesbury but the people of Aylesbury were protected. This must always be our number one aim.

We received tremendous support from Aylesbury Vale District Council, Bucks County Council, Aylesbury Town Council and many faith groups within Aylesbury. I would particularly like to thank Graham Taylor - Paddick, the senior youth worker from Bucks County Council, who did an absolutely fantastic job in arranging so many activities for young people to take part in on the day. Graham's contribution was exceptional.

But my most sincere thanks go to you - the people of Aylesbury and the Aylesbury Vale. Before the event I asked, and prayed, for local people to leave the policing of this difficult event to the police. This is exactly what happened and all communities within Aylesbury have responded magnificently. Tensions were running extremely high and, quite understandably, this event created anxiety, distress and very serious concern. However, local people realised that further provocation would only provide 'the oxygen of publicity' to the protesters.

I cannot express my sincere thanks and supreme admiration to all those local people who acted as community mediators. Their role in ensuring the successful management of this protest was absolutely critical. On Saturday afternoon, it was the greatest privilege of my police career to attend the area around the Mosque and see this exceptional, and sometimes, challenging work taking place. This was Aylesbury at its very best.

My sincere thanks to you all. Let us now move forward together.

Richard List
Aylesbury Vale LPA Commander