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Police make public aware of far right Britain First stall in Southend High Street
POLICE have made members of the public aware that a stall in Southend High Street is being run by a far-right political group.
Two police officers and a street ranger spoke to people who visited the stall run by Britain First which asked people to sign a petition calling for better conditions for Armed Forces and to donate £3.
The incident on Wednesday at around 11.30am was the latest in a number of spats between members of Britain First and the authorities in the High Street over how the group campaigns.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “A female neighbourhood police officer was on routine patrol and spoke to a small group of pensioners who had just left a Britain First stall.
“She wanted to ensure they were aware of what they had just signed at the stall and discussed with the representative.”
He said police work closely with Southend Council licensing and trading standards to ensure stalls have necessary permits.
Political groups can campaign in the town centre, but are not able to sell items without permission.
Concerns have been raised the stall is selling Britain First products. Small metal badges are given to those who donate £3.
Last week council officers visited the stall following complaints from members of the public, but were unable to do anything as there were no badges on view.
The police spokesman added: “We would advise anyone who has been asked to donate money to charity or sign the petition to ensure they are fully aware of the organisation's aims.
“All charities have a registered number which should be produced on request."
John Wilson, a manager at the Britain First HQ in London, defended the group.
He said: “We have branches doing this all over the country.
“We do not charge people for badges. Councils cannot get it through their heads we do not need permits to do this.”