POLICE are sending personal letters to potential troublemakers warning them to stay away from tomorrow’s planned protests in Blackburn town centre.

Lancashire police is preparing for its biggest ever policing operation around the English Defence League demonstration and counter-protest.

Suspected troublemakers from both sides of the protest are being served with notices to try to stop them from attending.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “A number of individuals, who we believe are planning to attend both demonstrations on Saturday, will receive a hand-delivered letter making it clear that we will not tolerate any criminal behaviour that may lead to violent confrontations at either event.

We hope this will deter them from coming to Blackburn, but if they are still intent on coming to either demonstration to cause trouble, positive action will be taken against them."

Limits have now been placed on both groups to a maximum of 3,000.

They will be held at separate points on either side of Northgate from 12.45pm.

Police have warned that ‘hate banners’ containing what they see as ‘criminal content’ will be removed and action taken.

Officers will be ‘overtly’ filming the protest.

Neighbourhood police officers will be out in numbers in their area and plans are in place to call on support from across the county and other forces if trouble flares.

Mr Cooke said he hoped shoppers would still come in to town despite the demonstrations.

"It will be busy but if you need to come into town, please do,” he added.