POLICE have defended their response to a large brawl that broke out in Worcester city centre in the early hours.

Detective Inspector Neil Austin, of West Mercia Police, praised his officers for showing “bravery” and "restraint".

“This was a highly volatile situation, which initially started as a minor incident of anti-social behaviour but escalated into more serious disorder,” he said.

He was speaking after four men – two 19-year-olds from Pershore, a 31-year-old man from Malvern, and an 18-year-old man from Evesham – were bailed until Monday, September 29, on suspicion of violent disorder.

The violence began early on Bank Holiday Monday outside McDonald’s in Worcester’s Foregate Street after police spoke to a man about being too drunk.

In the brawl that followed at about 4am, a number of police officers were assaulted, suffering minor injuries.

Today some people took to social media and websites to criticise the police’s handling of the incident.

But DI Austin said: "We would like to recognise the bravery and restraint shown by our officers, as well as thanking those who supported us.

“Our officers are highly trained in dealing with these kinds of situations but if anyone does have any concerns we would welcome the opportunity to speak to them.

“Disorder on this scale is a very rare occurrence in Worcester, and we would like to reassure the public that police are continuing to keep our communities safe.”

Among the criticisms were allegations that officers had been heavy-handed and had reacted too strongly to people filming the incident.

On the Worcester News website, under the name OT1234, one reader posted: “I was there for the whole thing. I feel the police were very aggressive and abused their power, and it is because of this that bystanders felt the need to join in and attack the police officers.”

Rhys G’don Newman said: “I watched a girl get thrown on the floor, the bouncer hit my mate and I got pushed.”

Det Insp Austin said investigations into the incident were ongoing.

“We are now working to establish the exact circumstances around the incident and would encourage anyone who has any pictures, video or information to come forward as it could be vital to the investigation,” he said.

Anyone with information on the brawl is asked to call 101, quoting incident number 0089s of Monday, August 25, 2014.

Witnesses can also speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org

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