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Former Labour Shadow Home Secretary, Lord Hattersley
"In some areas there are conditions that breed this sort of behaviour"
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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Labour at odds on Bradford riots
Scenes of destruction in Bradford
The aftermath of the weekend's troubles in Bradford
Senior Labour Party figures are at odds over the government's response to the behaviour of rioting Asian youths in Bradford at the weekend.

The party's former deputy leader Lord (Roy) Hattersley said the use of water cannon in such a situation, as had been suggested by Home Secretary David Blunkett, would be "absolutely disastrous".

The violence by Asian youths has been condemned by Number 10 as "simple thuggery" and by Mr Blunkett as "mindless violence".

As calm appeared to be returning to the city, local MPs Gerry Sutcliffe and Marsha Singh also called for strong action against such scenes of disorder including the use of water cannon.

These young Muslim men ... believe they are being neglected, they believe the are being ignored

Lord Hattersley
Mr Singh said: "The police have got to have the equipment and the resources to clear the streets."

But Lord Hattersley rejected their potential effect as "absolutely disastrous".

It was instead more than time that Prime Minister Tony Blair's famous slogan "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" was actually put into practice, he said.

'Alienation and deprivation'

Lord Hattersley - who was also a Labour shadow home secretary - told BBC Radio 4's World at One Programme that the causes of crime, in this case, were "alienation and deprivation".

Lord Hattersley
Lord Hattersley said using water cannon would be "disastrous"
"These young Muslim men ... believe they are being neglected, they believe the are being ignored," he said.

"They believe their legitimate claims are not being heard, they believe that the economic opportunities that the rest of society enjoys are not being provided for them."

Mr Singh told the same programme that the majority of the muslim community had condemned the weekend's troubles that saw buildings set on fire, cars destroyed and 164 police injured.

He blamed 200-300 youths for the bulk of the trouble.

"It was plainly and simply a wanton assault upon the police and property and people in the Manningham area," he said.

A Downing Street spokesman acknowledged that there may have been "an element" of provocation from the far right "but the best first evidence suggests this is simply thuggery and local people intent on having a go at the police and in the process of that, destroying their own community."

"Whatever peoples' concerns ... there is no excuse for the sorts of scenes we saw," the spokesman said.

But he played down suggestions the government wanted to see water cannon and tear gas used in such situations insisting that Mr Blunkett wanted the police to use the lowest measures necessary to maintain public order.

Listening to police

However the spokesman indicated that the government would listen to any demands the police made in the wake of the experiences of the weekend.

Mr Blunkett said that police officers were sometimes forced to be too cautious in the way they defended themselves against rioters.

"The way in which they are cautious - we don't for instance use water cannon - does actually place them in a situation of prolonged violence and anti-social behaviour," he said.

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See also:

29 Jun 01 | UK Politics
National Front targets Oldham
15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'No no-go areas in Oldham'
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