'Leave the area as soon as possible': Police plea as hundreds gather for international protest rally - with smoke devices set off and long delays caused

People are being urged to avoid travelling in Birmingham and Sandwell as hundreds of people take part in an international protest rally.

A screenshot of a video showing the protest
A screenshot of a video showing the protest

It come as police have warned those using smoke devices at the protests in Sandwell were breaking the law.

Officers from West Midlands Police have asked people to 'leave the area as soon as possible' and drivers told to avoid travelling in Birmingham and Sandwell due to the ongoing congestion.

Police are currently in attendance at a rally in Birmingham which has seen hundreds of people congregating, despite Covid-19 restrictions.

West Midlands Ambulance Service has also asked that anyone caught up in the congestion or taking part in the rally make way for emergency vehicles.

It is part of a national protest which began in Wolverhampton this morning to raise awareness of the protests in India supporting farmers who are rallying against new government laws that deregulate the sale of crops.

Throughout the day there has been high levels of congestion due to the rally, particularly on J1 of the M5 in West Bromwich and surrounding areas.

Motorists are being asked to find alternative routes and avoid the area.

Officers are in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and are moving on groups who are gathering and standing around.

Video footage from an onlooker showed large crowds of people gathering with no social distancing in place, many were also not wearing masks.

Superintendent Sarah Burton who is policing today’s rally said: “I would strongly urge anyone who is planning to come to the West Midlands area to reconsider due to the ongoing congestion.

“I would also encourage anyone who is currently in attendance at the rally to leave the area as soon as possible.

“Despite attempts to engage and identify an organiser for this event we were unable to do so.

“We do recognise the right for a peaceful demonstration, but the traffic is now causing major issues for emergency vehicles and other motorists.

“Please be mindful of other road users. Our officers will take the appropriate action where necessary.”

Organisers had asked protesters to remain in their vehicles at all times and to comply with government guidelines and tier 3 restrictions.

Despite the Kisaan Rally being a peaceful protest, police have also issued a warning after smoke devices had been let off in Sandwell earlier today.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police added: "We've seen a few smoke devices being let off in #Sandwell as part of the #BirminghamKissanRally and we'd just like to remind people that it's illegal to set one off if it causes danger to road users.

"Please be mindful of this. We want you to have a peaceful rally as planned."

Emergency services have also asked those taking part in the rally to be mindful of letting ambulances pass through the area.

A West Midlands Police Ambulance spokesman said: "We are aware of the traffic issues being caused in Sandwell as part of the Birmingham Kissan Rally and are currently working with West Midlands Police to ensure it has a minimal impact on crews and patients.

"However, if you are taking part in today's rallies please can we ask that you cooperate with our crews.

"If you see an ambulance on blue lights and sirens, please let them through so they can attend patients as quickly and safely as possible.

"When attending a life-threatening emergency, every second counts. Thank you."

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