Police extend powers to disperse groups gathering outside asylum seekers’ hotel

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Police powers to stop people gathering outside a hotel housing asylum seekers have been extended for a further 48 hours to ensure “there is no repeat” of violent disorder.

The dispersal zone was put in place outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, Merseyside, after a police van was set alight and fireworks were thrown during a protest on Friday.

Merseyside Police said the order, which gives officers powers to direct people engaging in anti-social behaviour or likely to become involved in incidents, would remain in place until just before 1pm on Friday.

“The incident on Friday put those in the community and our officers at risk. We have made 15 arrests at this time, and one man has been charged.

“A dedicated investigation team will be reviewing all available evidence to identify and bring to justice those involved in the disorder.

“We have introduced this dispersal zone to give officers the additional powers to approach people they suspect may be there to commit offences.

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

Police said following inquiries, 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 said: “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.

“The suspicious incident last week in Kirkby is, like all such allegations, under investigation by detectives and we always encourage anyone with information on suspected crime in your area to come forward directly to police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.

“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.”

Following the protest, a number of 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, Liverpool, has been charged with violent disorder and assault by beating of an emergency worker following the protest and is due to appear before Liverpool Crown Court on March 13.

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