Police extend dispersal order following rally outside Knowsley hotel

The remaining 14 people arrested have been conditionally bailed pending the outcome of the police investigation. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Police have issued a fourth dispersal order after violence broke out outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley.

Fifteen arrests were made after disorder broke out on Friday 10 February outside the Suites Hotel, which led to a police van being set on fire.

An order to limit people gathering without good reason in the area will now continue through to 12.59pm on Sunday 19 February.

A police van was set on fire following the protest. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Superintendent Karl Baldwin said: “This is the fourth Dispersal Zone we have issued since the violent scenes on Friday 10 February. This shows how serious and determined we are to prevent any repeat of what happened last week.

“Since the disorder, Merseyside Police has set up a dedicated investigation team to identify and bring to justice all those involved.

“I want to stress that this order is not designed to stop residents of Knowsley from going about their lawful business, but it gives us the powers we need to deal effectively with criminal behaviour and keep the community safe.

“Additional patrols will be in the area to enforce the Dispersal Zone and to reassure the community, so if you have any concerns or wish to provide information please speak to our officers out on patrol or contact us so we can take action.

"Those not heeding the instruction to disperse within a Dispersal Zone may be arrested."

The protest followed reports of an incident in Kirkby where a man made inappropriate advances towards a teenage girl.

A man in his 20s was arrested in another part of the country on suspicion of a public order offence and released with no further action.

Mr Baldwin continued: “We know people are concerned, but much of that concern is based on misinformation and rumour. There is no excuse for resorting to violence.

“We know that those involved in the violent activity on Friday used rumours and allegations as an excuse to commit violence and intimidate members of the public.

“Everyone has the right to live their lives in peace and without fear."

Police have said that they are listening to the concerns of communities in Knowsley and will carry on doing so this week.

Mr Baldwin added: “Social media posting and sharing of unsubstantiated rumour is not the way to raise concerns to the police, it could jeopardise any investigation and put innocent people in harm’s way.”

After the protest, numerous charities signed an open letter calling on political leaders to “take a clear stand” and condemn violence against asylum seekers.

Jared Skeete, 19, of Aigburth in Liverpool, has now been charged with violent disorder and assault by beating of an emergency worker following the protest.

He will appear before Liverpool Crown Court on 13 March.