POLICE are urging the public to ignore false and inflammatory rumours about rioting in Burnley.
Officers have experienced no violence in any area of town and have warned those trying to incite disorder through sites like Facebook and Twitter they are being watched.
Two men, including Christopher Schofield (25), of Eckroyd Close, Nelson, were charged after posting messages encouraging disorder on Facebook and Assistant Chief Constable Peter White, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “There have been isolated incidents of criminal damage in some areas of the county overnight, which is usual for this time of year, but given the wider national picture we will be investigating the circumstances surrounding the motivation for such behaviour.
“I would like to reassure people that although there is nothing to suggest to us there will be any disorder in Lancashire, a force-wide operation is in place to ensure the situation remains under close watch and resources are available should they be needed.
“We have seen lots of speculation across social media about things allegedly happening in Lancashire and urge people not to get caught up in this rumour-mongering. These actions are causing unnecessary concern and, in the worst case scenario, may encourage unrest. Social media sites are routinely monitored by the constabulary and anyone found inciting violence or disorder will be dealt with by police.”
Mr Chris Gribben, manager of Charter Walk shopping centre, said there had been no trouble in the town centre but they were monitoring the situation. “Everything has been fine,” he said. “Procedures are always considered to ensure the safety of staff and the public but we have not had to take any precautionary measures.”
As Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament yesterday, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle remained in the town for meetings. He condemned those taking part in the riots and urged the Government to “pull the plug” on social networking sites. “I can’t understand why these yobs are smashing up their own towns. It’s brainless, there’s no sense in it. It’s utter criminality.”
Meanwhile, 76 officers from Lancashire have been sent to the capital to help the Metropolitan Police Force. Mr White reassured people this would not lead to a strain on resources in Lancashire. “While we have not cancelled rest days or annual leave, we have made a decision not to approve any new requests for leave or rest days for the duration of the operation.”