POLICE have turned out in force to prevent a potential assault outside a Burton mosque.
A dozen officers were sent to Princess Street, in Horninglow, yesterday to prevent possible disorder after Friday prayers.
Chief inspector Steve Maskrey, the town’s top policeman, said: “We received some information which indicated that an assault may take place in the area.
“From our records, there have been incidents in the past which have become quite serious.
“As a result of this information, I put several officers on the streets in the area to reassure the public and ensure no further offences took place.”
Police positioned themselves at intervals in Princess Street as worshippers prayed inside the mosque.
At one point, the officers approached a group of young men at one end of the street and appeared to attempt to persuade them to disperse.
However, the possibility for disorder seemed to be at its greatest as believers filed out of the mosque.
Asked to explain the police presence, one worshipper, who declined to be named, said it was linked to a long-running dispute between two families.
Mahboob Yousaf, chairman of Burton Interfaith Network and Shobnall Parish Council, said: “It’s very unfortunate if people come with a mindset to start any kind of trouble outside or inside a mosque, especially during Friday prayers.
“If there’s trouble the police need to deal with it in accordance with the law.”
He said the police presence was ‘respectful’ and indicated that officers were welcome outside the mosque if they helped to prevent trouble.
Police succeeded in persuading one group of men to move away from the mosque and appeared to watch as another headed in the opposite direction.
Other worshippers stayed behind to chat outside the mosque, as is normal after Friday prayers.
Residents, like earlier passers-by, appeared not to know why the police were there.