West Yorkshire Police is facing legal action from a prominent racial equality activist and its own officers amid criticism of the force's handling of summer race riots.
Mohammed Amran, the Commission for Racial Equality's (CRE) North of England commissioner, is suing over two incidents in the Manningham area of Bradford, scene of this month's rioting. His legal action comes as police on duty during the Bradford riots, when hundreds of officers were injured, launch compensation claims for injuries against the force. Their claims were yesterday criticised by the head of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, who said dealing with dangerous situations was "part of the job".
The Police Complaints Authority is investigating the first incident involving Mr Amran, when his right wrist was broken allegedly as he was handcuffed. In another, which he claims involves the same police constable on the same night as rioting in the Harehills district of Leeds last month he was arrested but released without charge.
Mr Amran, a figurehead in the CRE's 25th anniversary anti-racism drive this year, says he was approached by officers while visiting a relative on 22 July last year, and told he was under arrest. He claims to have recognised one of the officers from his work as a member of Bradford's Police Ethnic Minorities Liaison Committee, but says that the officer mistakenly identified him as someone else and only "de-arrested" him when his identity became clear. Treatment at Bradford Royal Infirmary later showed his wrist to have been broken.
The more recent incident, for which Mr Amran will sue for assault and false imprisonment, followed his intervention when two Asian men were stopped for alleged road traffic offences, in Manningham on 6 June. He intervened when a confrontation developed between at least 15 Asians and police after the men parked on double yellow lines. Mr Amran was arrested, taken to police cells and charged with a breach of the peace. Charges against all three men are understood to have been dropped.
The incident bears a striking resemblance to that which preceded the violence that broke out on the same night in Leeds. There, in Harehills, officers used CS spray amid a gathering of Asians as they tried to apprehend a Bengali chef suspected of a tax disc offence. The riots ensued after community leaders had demanded but did not receive an apology.
The force is also facing legal action from seven officers who have asked West Yorkshire Police Federation to help in compensation claims for specific injuries, not stress, suffered during the Bradford rioting on 7 July. Missiles thrown by rioters injured 289 officers, 42 of whom are still on sick leave.
Richard Critchley, the Police Federation area secretary, said: "Just because it's a dangerous job you don't say we'll send them out to deal with a riot without a care in the world."
Neil Taggart, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, said he was "dismayed" by the claims.
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