Thirty two men will appear in court this week to be sentenced after violence erupted at an English Defence League demonstration in Walsall last year. Over a period of four days the defendants will all appear at Wolverhampton Crown Court for their final hearing, after being convicted of violent disorder earlier this year.
The men were arrested and charged following an investigation by West Midlands Police Force CID following violence in Walsall town centre on September 29, 2012. A series of operations were staged across the country to arrest people suspected of involvement in the disorder, which broke out when members of the protest group tried to break through police lines.
A further 17 men have already appeared before magistrates where they have been sentenced for crimes ranging from public order offences to criminal damage.
Det Chief Insp Pete Dunn, who led the police investigation into the disorder, said: “The majority of the people who visited Walsall to protest that day were law-abiding. However a small number of people decided to get involved in a few ugly scenes when protestors began to try and break through police lines and throw missiles.
“Thirty people were arrested at the time, and we continued to arrest people from as far and wide as Dorset and County Durham over the weeks and months that followed. This week sees the culmination of a detailed, painstaking investigation by a dedicated team of officers who were determined to bring those people to justice.
“We recovered many hours of CCTV, mobile phone and police footage which led to more than 450 hours of detective work to identify those responsible for bringing violence to the streets of Walsall. These court proceedings underline the fact that we will pursue people who commit crime in the West Midlands, no matter how long it takes, and bring them to justice.”
Chief Supt Dave Sturman, commander for Walsall and in charge of the operation on the day, added: “We recognise that the people of Walsall were both concerned and inconvenienced on the day and we hope that residents are reassured by our continuing efforts to bring those involved in disorder in the town to justice.
“The message to people intent on bringing violence to the streets of the West Midlands when attending such events is clear – we will not tolerate disorder or any form of anti social behaviour.
“The force takes a hard line against anyone who comes to the West Midlands and creates disorder, whether it be in the name of an organisation or just for devilment. If you commit such crimes we will track you down and ultimately you will be brought before the courts.”
Despite violence breaking out at the EDL demonstration, only a small number of protesters and police officers sustained minor cuts and bruises. There were no serious injuries.
All 32 men will appear before Wolverhampton Crown Court to be sentenced between Monday, December 16-Thursday, December 19.