COLCHESTER’S top cop has thanked animal rights protestors for a “peaceful” demonstration outside the town’s magistrates’ court on Wednesday.

Activists assembled outside the building at St Botolph’s Circus to air their views on two prosecutions being brought by the RSPCA.

About 20 officers from the police support unit were drafted in to guard outside the court building, including protest liaison officers.

Some were indoors in the court waiting area and in the public gallery, for the two hearings.

The operation had earmarked the St Botolph’s roundabout area as a designated space for protestors.

However, it was deemed there were not enough people for them to be contained there.

Chief Inspector Richard Phillibrown, of Colchester Police, said: “Thank you to all the organisations, the protestors and the public for their understanding and working with the police to ensure a peaceful day.”

No arrests were made despite heckling from the crowd as the defendants walked away from the court building, followed by officers.

The operation’s aim was to ensure the protestors had the opportunity to make their voices heard, allow the court to run as usual and not to impact on other members of the public.