Tensions rose as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with crowds gathering to "defend the war memorial" from the movement.

Hundreds of people gathered in Victoria Square this afternoon, with police forced to separate the two crowds.

Some small scuffles broke out, but were quickly dispersed by police or fellow counter-protesters making pleas for peace.

Crowds booed the BLM protesters as they clapped and cheered, stating that they wanted to "create an equal future for everyone".

At least one counter-protester was spotted in the back of a police car as it drove away from the demonstration.

The leader of Bolton Council praised people for staying peaceful at today's protests. 

Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “The right to peaceful protest is an important part of every democracy but at a time when we continue to face real risks from the coronavirus our advice this weekend, which remains, is that people should find alternative methods to protest rather than attending mass gatherings.

"I am disappointed people chose to ignore that advice but I would like to thank the majority of the protestors on both sides who turned up today to demonstrate peacefully, and a huge thank you to the police who did an excellent job in controlling and handling the situation.

“As an authority, we reject all forms of discrimination. We took the precaution of protecting our war memorials in Bolton town centre and Westhoughton as we simply could not stand by and risk anyone trying to deface them, as we have seen in protests in other towns and cities. I am pleased that nobody attempted to do this."

Most of the protesters dispersed at around 5pm, after kneeling in front of the war memorial.