Ministers threaten crackdown on rioters

Ian Herbert,North
Monday 24 February 2014 02:48
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Tougher riot control measures were being considered by the Government last night as ministers sought to crack down on the scale of violence witnessed in Bradford over the weekend.

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, said riots in other parts of the world, where police had used water cannon and other hardline tactics, tended to be controlled more quickly.

"I am not actually keen myself on upping the ante," he said. "But I am keen to examine any suggestions that are put forward in circumstances where people believe they can go on the streets, threaten others including the police, and believe they can get away with it."

Mr Blunkett spoke after Bradford was rocked by some of the worst riots seen in Britain since the 1980s. On Saturday night 120 police officers were injured and two people stabbed, and 36 people were arrested, 23 white and 13 Asian.

Last night fresh trouble erupted when up to 30 white youths attacked an Asian restaurant and a petrol station with baseball bats. "Suddenly a group of youths started throwing bricks through the window. The attack went on for about 10 minutes ­ it was terrifying," said Tayub Amjad, of the Kebabeesh Restaurant.

Bradford was where the summer of unrest began when disturbances between white people and Asians after a Hindu wedding in April led to 35 arrests. Violence has flared in Oldham, Burnley and Leeds in the past six weeks.

The causes of the weekend's disturbances appeared similar to those that led to violence in Oldham in May: the threat of National Front activity and instances of racial abuse from whites triggering protests among young Asians, in which officers were pelted with bricks, road signs and even beer barrels.

Chief Superintendent Phil Read of West Yorkshire Police said: "I would make a major appeal for calm and restraint, and would urge people to stay indoors."

Despite suggestions that outside Asian activists may have caused the violence, Mr Blunkett laid blame on an unruly contingent of Bradford Asians.

After scuffles which left two whites stabbed following an Anti-Nazi League demonstration on Saturday afternoon, gangs of Asians were pushed back into the Manningham district, where officers were pelted with bricks, bottles, petrol bombs and fireworks. Manningham Labour Club and a car showroom were set on fire.

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