The number of officers patrolling Bournemouth town centre this weekend will rise substantially as two separate protests take place at the same time.

Police have confirmed that Thames Valley Police officers mounted on horseback will be drafted in Bournemouth as members of the English Defence League march through the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against “Islamic extremism.”

Hundreds are additionally expected to join a counter-rally organised by Unite the Union to celebrate Bournemouth's diverse culture.

It is understood that officers are prepared for the possibility of violent confrontations on the streets of the town.

Superintendant Nicky Searle, Gold Commander for the force's Operation Fig - an initiative to manage the response to the day - said the police and other authorities are legally obligated to facilitate peaceful protest.

She said: “We will monitor both marches to help keep everyone safe as they move through the town, provide information to help minimise disruption, and respond quickly if any crimes or significant disorder occurs.”

Supt Searle said both groups have contacted Dorset Police, and the EDL agreed following discussions not to march during the busy Air Festival weekend.

She added: “We are working with Bournemouth Borough Council and other partners to manage any impact on the town and to reassure local people.

“This includes liaising with other emergency services to ensure access for response vehicles during the marches.”

It is expected that rolling road closures will be used only when necessary.

Supt Searle said: “On the day people will see an increased police presence in the town.

“However, I would reassure local residents, businesses and visitors that our intention and expectation is that while people will probably notice the protests taking place for a few hours, they will still be able to enjoy the town as normal with minimal disruption for the vast majority of the day.”

The English Defence League plan to meet at the Square and march to the West Overcliff path between the BIC and the clifftop.

The counter-protest, involving a number of groups coordinated by Unite the Union, plan to meet at Horseshoe Common, taking a proposed route that finishes at Bath Road South car park.

Some disruption is expected between midday and 2pm.