Sixteen arrests during EDL rally

EDL and We Are Bristol groups were 200 metres apart at one point. Photo: ITV News

A controversial English Defence League demonstration and a major opposition rally have been praised for passing peacefully today despite a number of arrests.

Up to 300 far right campaigners marched through Bristol in protest at what it claims is the "islamification" of the city.

Two local EDL supporters had previously received death threats in the run up to today's potentially violent public protest.

But a determined police drive to ensure the rival rallies passed off peacefully appears to have been successful.

Avon and Somerset Police drafted in extra officers from as far afield as Yorkshire to swell the ranks of the riot control force to 1,000.

Isolated clashes took place between the police and EDL protesters as the rally wound down and supporters left the city.

Missiles were thrown at one point and burning paper tossed into wheelie bins in a failed attempt to start a blaze.

The English Defence League campaigners at the rally in Bristol Credit: ITV News

Earlier, demonstrators walked through rain swept streets to Queen Square where EDL leaders made speeches to their supporters.

At the same time up to 500 anti-EDL protesters with the We Are Bristol campaign marched in the city in an counter-demonstration.

Simultaneously hundreds more people were marching as part of this year's Bristol Pride celebrations.

A pride parade to College Green marked the end of a week of events celebrating the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

A large police presence remained in Bristol to ensure the city's Saturday evening routine passed normally.

Hundreds of people took part in the Pride Parade Credit: ITV News

Avon and Somerset Police has thanked the Bristol community for their patience during today's marches.

English Defence League and We Are Bristol demonstrations took place around Queen's Square and Castle Park.

Police say the majority of people were well behaved, with only eleven arrests.

This has been a challenging day and I would like to thank the community for their patience and support.

I have always maintained that the central shopping and tourist destinations should remain unaffected and I am pleased that the city centre has remained trouble-free.

Despite the demands placed on our officers we have also been able to support Bristol Pride which I know is an important and well supported event in the city's calendar.

Finally, I would like to thank all the officers and staff who have taken part in today's operation. Some have come from as far away as Yorkshire to help keep our city running smoothly.

We have also had excellent support from the other agencies working alongside us.

– Anthony Bangham, Assistant Chief Constable, Avon & Somerset Police

A police operation costing £500,000 and involving 1,000 officers from all over the UK were successful in keeping the EDL and We Are Bristol marchers apart.

Police estimate that around 300 EDL supporters and 500 We Are Bristol supporters took part in their respective marches.

You can watch the full report by Richard Payne here: