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The BBC's John Thorne
"Police insist they responded immediately"
 real 56k

Abid Hussein, Bradford community worker
"People have suffered"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Police accused over Bradford clashes
Burnt out cars
Local residents say the police response was too slow
Police in Bradford have been accused of not responding quickly enough to the violence which flared between white and Asian youths over the weekend.

Some local people in the predominately Asian suburb of Lidget Green have been angered by what they said was a slow response by the police and accused the force of ignoring dozens of emergency calls.

They also complained that the police did little to help the Asian youths during the clashes and made it easier for the white men to attack them.

Police now say they believe there was a racial motive behind some of the violence, despite initially suggesting there was no evidence for this.

One local resident said: "Instead of trying to break things up when the Asian youths ran back towards the main crowd the police pulled out their truncheons and started whacking them over the head," said one eye witness.

Coach House pub
Trouble flared outside the Coach House pub
Another local resident, former police officer Rashid Arwan, has called for calm, urging locals to give police time to find out cause of disturbances.

"I would not advise anyone to take the law into their own hands. The police are doing their job. Whatever has happened has to be reviewed, has to be looked at again," he said.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire police said no complaints about police brutality had been made but, if they were, they would be fully investigated.

On Sunday a 100-strong crowd petrol bombed a pub, set fire to cars and smashed windows during violent clashes between white and Asian youths which left at least eight people injured.

Three men, aged 19, 32 and 42, who were arrested during the disturbances have been released on police bail.

Communication

The police orignally said they did not believe the attack was racially motivated.

But Mohammed Amran, of the Commission for Racial Equality, said he had been told of racial abuse being shouted by the white youths prior to the clashes.

"I've reported that to the police and I'm expecting them to carry out a full investigation into the allegations that local residents are making," he said.

Mohammed Amran
Mohammed Amran: "Police talking to wrong people"

And he called on police to focus on working with the right people within Bradford's Asian community to try to avoid any repetition of the violence.

"They continue to talk to community leaders and that's where the problem is.

"The police do not have a direct communications link with young people," he said.

Mr Amran's point was backed by community worker Riffat Akram.

She said that previous efforts by the police to get closer to the Asian community after the last serious violent clashes in the city in 1995 had been misdirected.

Ms Akram believed that the measures, which included some police officers learning Urdu and visiting Pakistan, had not addressed the real problem.

She said: "Learning Urdu will help with the older community, but most of the people they are dealing with are British youths not Asian youths.

"They are British youths from an Asian background. Going to Pakistan, how on earth is that supposed to help us here?"

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