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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Police deny 'no-go zones' for whites
racist graffiti
Racist graffiti in Oldham is stirring up tensions
Police have denied that Asian youths are turning parts of Oldham into "no-go zones" for whites.

Latest police figures show a record level of race attacks in the Greater Manchester town, with 60% of reported victims being white.

Suggestions that no-go areas exist in Oldham followed the violence which flared at the weekend between white and Asian youths in Bradford.

Chief Superintendent Eric Hewitt, of the Oldham division of Greater Manchester police, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he did not believe there were any such areas in Oldham.

But he warned that unless the public gave their full support to police initiatives there was a "very real danger" that no-go zones could become reality.


It's a matter of getting revenge, a matter of giving as good as you can take

Asian youth

In a report on the Today programme, one young Asian on the Glodwick estate in the west of Oldham said there were signs all around the area saying "Whites enter at your own risk".

"It wasn't done to say 'We don't want you in our area', it was just to show that 'What you've done to us, we can do to you'," he said.

"It's a matter of getting revenge, a matter of giving as good as you can take.

"No one comes in here and causes trouble any more."


There has certainly been an increase of violence on white people

Councillor, Abdul Jabbar
But local councillor Abdul Jabbar said most people in the town lived in harmony, and only a small minority were responsible for the racist attacks.

He said: "There has certainly been an increase of violence on white people.

"This worries me and has to be resolved.

"But also there are attacks on Asian people, some very serious ones."

Racial crime unit

Akbor Khan, who lost three teeth in an attack by a gang of white youths in a subway, told the programme he would not report the crime because he had no confidence in the police.

But Mr Hewitt refuted the allegation that police were slow to respond to complaints from the Asian community.

"To try to combat that under-reporting, over a year ago I set up a special racial crime unit in the town to demonstrate that we were taking it seriously and that we would identify and arrest people responsible for these offences by employing specialist officers.

"That small unit alone arrested 75 people for racist crime last year.

"We are taking it seriously and we are producing the results.

Mr Hewitt urged community leaders to help the police identify anyone responsible for race attacks.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Social Affairs Reporter, Barnie Choudhury
"Their agenda is blunt - to create a no-go area for white people"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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