Brighton youths attack police

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The Independent Online

Four police officers were injured in battles with gangs of youths hurling bricks and bottles at them on a Brighton housing estate yesterday.

Four police officers were injured in battles with gangs of youths hurling bricks and bottles at them on a Brighton housing estate yesterday.

Around 50 officers, including dog-handling units, were needed to deal with the disorder on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton, East Sussex. Eleven youths were arrested for violent disorder. The attacks began on Friday evening and continued throughout the night.

A spokesman for Sussex police said: "The threat to law and order was real, and ended in a situation where officers came under a hail of missiles. This is a cause for concern and we are treating this very seriously.

"This was not the time of day we would expect to deal with large-scale disorder as it was not after the pubs had closed and started in daylight. There was disorder and it became a chance to get at the police."

But a witness to the start of the violence accused the police of inflaming the original stand-off. She said: "My impression was that the police aggravated the situation by going in heavy-handed. If they had simply made their arrests and left, the kids would have gone as well."

She said the trouble started with two young men having an argument near a bus shelter. "One threw a brick at the other one, which narrowly missed a small girl walking past. The police were called. Several police cars arrived at around 6.20pm and a group of youths started mouthing off at them.

"The police went in heavy-handed and had officers wearing riot gear with shields. As soon as the dogs arrived the mood grew worse. People were running at the police. I saw one officer punched in the mouth."

A Sussex Police spokesman said the force could not respond to acts of violence against them by running away and handing over the estate to the youths. It would have been wrong for Sussex Police to adopt a run-away approach when faced by violence."

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