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Friday, 9 February, 2001, 13:18 GMT
Asians 'behind most racial violence'
Oldham's police chief has said Asian youths are responsible for more than half the racist attacks in the town.

Chief Superintendent Eric Hewitt said he was concerned about the increase of racist attacks by gangs of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin.

He said that in the past 12 months there had been 572 racial incidents, 60% of which were committed by Asians against white men.

Mr Hewitt has called an emergency meeting on Friday with community leaders and council representatives to discuss the situation.

Chf Supt Eric Hewitt
Eric Hewitt: Concerned about level of racist violence
The meeting follows an attack last week by a group of Asian men on a white man who was left seriously injured.

The victim, 23-year-old Mark Clayton, was stabbed twice in the leg and lost about five pints of blood when a main artery was severed.

Other recent incidents include one in which a white man was hit on the head by Asian assailants who then set their Rottweiler dog on him.

But an Oldham councillor, Abdul Quayum, criticised Chf Supt Hewitt's decision to focus on assaults committed by Asian men.

Mr Quayum expressed sympathy with the victim of last week's attack and called on the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities to come forward if they had any information about the crime.

He said such attacks and those committed by white men against Asians were part of a long running problem in the area.

" I think that the issue is broader than that. We really need to get to the root of the problem which has been around for a number of years," he said.

Abdul Quayum
Abdul Quayum: "Asians are not the only ones at fault"
Mr Quayum added that Chief Superintendent Hewitt had singled out Asians for criticism before.

"This is not the first time he's made statements like this. He has a history of blaming only one part of the community," he said.

The chief executive of Oldham Council, Andrew Kilburn, condemned the recent attacks.

"There is simply no excuse for violence between groups of people, whoever the perpetrators might be, whether they are of Asian, black or white origin.

"As a council we have been working and will continue to work with the various agencies in the town," he said.

'Racism not rife'

The Oldham area tops the list of racial incidents reported to Greater Manchester police.

Racial Incidents in Greater Manchester
Bolton: 207
Oldham: 452
Rochdale: 330
Salford: 111
S Manchester: 388
Stockport: 144
Tameside: 112
Trafford: 135
Wigan: 74

Its 452 incidents in 1999/2000 compare with 207 in Bolton, a larger town with a comparable ethnic population.

But Councillor Keith Pendlebury, who chairs Oldham's social development committee, denied the town was any more violent than neighbouring areas.

He said the figures needed to be put into context.

"The report of Greater Manchester Police, from which the figures are taken, does point out that Oldham has for a number of years had a system of reporting which is better developed than in the other boroughs.

"Oldham Council is not complacent about the situation, but we do argue that Oldham is not substantially different from other similar sized towns in the region where the racial and cultural mix of the population is comparable to ours," he said.

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See also:

19 Feb 99 | Stephen Lawrence
Racial violence: The ugly facts
04 Nov 99 | UK
Appeal to end racism hell
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