Bradford urged to 'shop' troublemakers

By Ian Herbert,Chris Bunting
Sunday 06 April 2014 05:40

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, warned that the Government would not tolerate further race riots in Bradford yesterday, as police urged local people to "shop" the troublemakers behind the unrest.

In an uncompromising statement, Mr Blunkett told MPs: "From today we will not accept the destruction of hard- won improvements in the most difficult areas of our country.

"The message must be unequivocal and unwavering. Whatever the debate about alienation and disaffection, attacking the police, destroying the well-being of the local community and playing into the hands of organised groups will simply not be tolerated."

Over the past three days, more than 200 police officers have been injured in the city in the worst rioting to hit Britain in almost two decades. Businesses have been firebombed and police pelted with petrol bombs in confrontations with large groups of white and Asian youths across the city. Yesterday, West Yorkshire Police was trying to turn the tide against the troublemakers.

"This was the crimes of a few ­ watched by many," said Detective Chief Superintendent Max McLean. "We would ask young people to put aside their loyalties and name the main protagonists who incited others to commit such violent acts."

Det Chief Supt McLean was speaking in the aftermath of a night of violence on the "white" Ravenscliffe and Holme Wood estates and the news that damage to Lister's BMW garage in Manningham on Saturday had run to £20m.

Meanwhile, locals were digesting the findings of a damning report from Lord Ouseley on the city's race relations. At Nassar Qureshi's corner shop yesterday, 30-year-old Zaib Khan agreed with Lord Ouseley's conclusion that Bradford's educationists, city leaders and police were to blame for failing to deliver multiculturalism to the city. "They need to start at the top," he said.

"Not them. Not them. This starts with us," Mr Qureshi bellowed back. He seemed to be shaping up to promote Tony Blair's view that the Manningham riots were the product of Asian juvenile "thuggery" but, in common with the more reflective Manningham Asians, insisted instead that parents and "elders" should be looking hardest in the mirror.

Now was the time for parents to confront Asian juvenile crime and for the community to start "voting the right people in", instead of the older Asians who sat on Bradford council in a vacuum of internal Pakistani and Asian politics. They had not been educated in Britain and were of a different mentality, Mr Qureshi said.

For Bradford's local authorities the unrest of the past few days has proved a salutary reminder of previous mistakes. The 1996 report of the Bradford Commission, established after the previous year's riots, was not signed by its only Asian memberand was widely condemned for failing to make any recommendations.

The likes of Zaib Khan still lament the lack of "training workshops, sports centre and community centres" to "keep the youth occupied" in Manningham. "The rioters were 12 when the last riots happened. Nothing's happened for them since," he said.

But municipal responsibility plays uncomfortably against social forces on the rare issue that most people, including Lord Ouseley, are agreed upon: that educational segregation is unhelpful.

The council insisted yesterday it could have limited effect on Asians' decision to live together and send their children to monocultural schools. The Asian desire for denominational schools ­ promoted by David Blunkett as Education Secretary ­ is about to add Britain's first state Muslim secondary to the 63 "supplementary" schools attached to mosques in Bradford. Instead, multicultural sports fixtures, and school "twinnings" have been among the council's ways of dealing with segregation.

Mr Blunkett said a ministerial action group would be publishing preliminary views later today on how the Government, in conjunction with local people, could "minimise the risk of further disorder". He said he would also discuss with police chiefs how to pool experience in dealing with riots.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments