VIOLENCE broke out during an English Defence League (EDL) demonstration in the city - although police say it could have been a lot worse.

The EDL held a rally in the city centre on Saturday over plans to build a £3million mosque in Stanley Road, Worcester.

Three people were arrested after far-right protesters clashed with counter demonstrators in Broad Street at around 1.40pm.

Two police officers were injured in the protests and one EDL supporter suffered a cut on his face.

A suspected pyrotechnic also exploded among the far-right protesters, although it does not appear that anyone was hurt.

Jabba Riaz, the Mayor of Worcester, said: “From a policing perspective it didn’t go quite according to plan as the route was slightly changed.

“And the intervention of some of the local community wasn’t anticipated as originally thought. That put a completely different twist on things.

“The injured police officer, the pyrotechnic and the scuffles that broke out wasn’t what I was expecting to happen.

“It was not a reflection of Worcester but a small group of hard-headed youths. This doesn’t project a good image.

“Hopefully we can regroup, gather and learn from what happened today.”

Cllr Riaz visited West Mercia Police headquarters on Saturday morning to watch the force's operation behind the scenes.

The mayor said he was impressed by how officers handled the complexities of the demonstration.

He added: “I’d like to praise the police operation. They had a lot of people on the ground. They did what they could under the circumstances.”

The mayor added that when he came back to the city he spent time at the peaceful counter protest in Worcester’s Cathedral Square.

One of the EDL protesters David Shuff, aged 32, from Stoke-on-Trent, suffered a cut near his eye during a scuffle with counter protesters.

Mr Shuff claims he was attacked when he tried to move past the opposition in Broad Street.

During the brawl, a police officer was knocked to the ground and her colleagues were forced to drag her away to safety - finding refuge in the HSBC bank.

Suf Hussain, aged 24, who was on the frontline of the counter demonstration, said: "I'm here to stand up for the rights of everyone not just blacks or Asians, the rights of all religions and all cultures and all ethnic backgrounds.

"They are trying to stir up the peaceful city of Worcester and cause friction between different communities that live in the city."

He said the Broad Street protest had been organised amongst friends and colleagues on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media.

Mr Hussain, who works in the defence industry, added that the EDL demonstration was more about criticising Islam than celebrating Englishness.

Another counter protester, who did not want to be named, said: "Worcester is a city based on liberty.

"We don't need the people of the EDL coming and saying what we can and can't do."

The EDL supporters were eventually pushed back down Bridge Street and the protest fizzled out.

Superintendent Damian Pettit, police commander for south Worcestershire, said three people were arrested for minor public order offences at the protests.

He added: "Two police officers were injured during the event but thankfully neither is thought to be seriously hurt.

"There were reports of items being thrown into the EDL group and this is now being investigated.

"While a small minority of people were more confrontational in their attitude than we wanted, this was a successful operation that saw the majority of people able to participate in peaceful protest and our communities and businesses protected from harm.

"I would like to thank the communities of Worcester for their co-operation and patience during our operation to police the demonstrations that took place in the city centre this afternoon.

"Extensive planning went into today's operation and I would also like to thank our partner agencies and my officers for ensuring the safety of our communities on the day.

"We will be meeting with our partners in the local community to talk through the events of today. Worcester enjoys positive relationships among its diverse communities and we will continue to work with our partners to build on this in the future."

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said officers did a professional job in difficult circumstances.

Worcester Trades Union Council held a counter protest in the Cornmarket, while 26-year-old university student Laura Lane oversaw another demonstration in Cathedral Square.

The organisers of both counter protests said they were opposing the EDL's attempt to sow divisions in the city.