Riot police called to protests outside asylum-seeker hotel as police van set on fire

‘Seems out of control,’ says refugee charity whose staff are ‘trapped’ during incident in Knowsley

Jane Dalton
Saturday 11 February 2023 10:37 GMT
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Riot police have been called out to a hotel for asylum-seekers after clashes involving protesters in Merseyside.

A police van was seen on fire outside the property as hundreds of people demonstrated in Knowsley, just outside the city.

Footage shared on social media shows large crowds gathered, with dozens of police including some with riot helmets and shields.

A police van was set on fire outside the hotel

Refugee charity Care4Calais said it had staff at the scene who were trapped in a car park.

“Still seems out of control,” a spokesperson tweeted on Friday evening. “The police all ran up the road outside the hotel about 20 mins ago, and didn’t come back. Lots of shouting. We can’t imagine the terror of the people inside the hotel.”

Merseyside Police said officers were dealing with two groups of protesters at the scene.

“At around 6.30pm, officers were facilitating an initially peaceful protest and counter-protest,” the force said.

“During the evening, missiles have reportedly been thrown and damage caused to a police vehicle. No injuries have been reported at this time. Additional officers are in the area to deal with these incidents.”

Riot police at the scene of the protests in Knowsley

Knowsley MP Sir George Howarth said some at the demonstration outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley were protesting against refugees.

He said it was triggered by an “alleged incident posted on social media” and criticised misinformation about refugees being “feather-bedded” at the hotel.

In a statement, he said: “I have referred an alleged incident posted on social media, which has triggered a demonstration outside the Suites Hotel, to Merseyside Police and Knowsley Council.

“Until the police have investigated the matter, it is too soon to jump to conclusions and the effort on the part of some to inflame the situation is emphatically wrong.

“If an offence has been committed, the police should deal with it appropriately through due process. In addition, the misinformation about refugees being feather-bedded is untrue and intended to paint a picture that does not at all represent the facts.

“The people of Knowsley are not bigots and are welcoming to people escaping from some of the most dangerous places in the world in search of a place of safety.

“Those demonstrating against refugees at this protest tonight do not represent this community. We are not like that and overwhelmingly behave with sympathy and kindness to others regardless of where they come from.”

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