THERE was a large police presence in Berwick town centre on Saturday afternoon during a highly-charged stand-off between two opposing protest groups.
The town’s newly formed Unite Against Fascism Group (UAF) faced off with representatives of the Scottish Defence League, who were using the visit to continue a campaign against Islam and immigration.
Traffic through the town was stopped to allow the two demonstrations to take place, marshalled by extra police officers drafted in from the south of the county.
Berwick’s UAF met outside the Town Hall, before marching up Castlegate where they unfurled an anti-SDL banner from the top of Scots Gate.
The group, which attracted many young members making a special return to the town for the protest, then held a static demonstration in the town centre.
Police estimates gave the number of Berwick UAF members at around 110. The SDL protest, which included a number of English Defence League supporters from Newcastle and Darlington, was between 60 and 70 strong.
After being met at the train station, the SDL group was held by police at the top of Castlegate before being escorted by police along their planned route, down Castlegate and along Walkergate.
Passing through Scots Gate, they chanted “paedophiles” and “wifebeaters” at bemused locals, also calling for British streets to be cleared of “Muslim scum”. and as they went along Walkergate they entwined Scottish and English flags, and sang ‘Rule Britannia’.
Five arrests were made over the course of the day for drunk and disorderly, breach of the peace, possession of cannabis and disorderly conduct.