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Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Calm returns to Stoke after violence
Riot police
Police from five forces are maintaining a presence
The streets of Stoke-on-Trent are calm again after a night of battles between police and Asian and white youths.

Staffordshire Police said they arrested a total of 49 whites and Asians during the racial violence, which started on Saturday afternoon and continued into the early hours of Sunday morning.


Yesterday was an example of how youths can respond to rumours which have no substance at the end of the day

Mohammed Parvez, Racial Equality Council

There have been claims the disturbances began in response to rumours that the far-right National Front were planning a march in the town.

But Staffordshire Police, who say they have officers on standby, have blamed a small criminal element who were intent on causing trouble.

They confirmed on Sunday that of those arrested, 31 were white and 15 Asian.

Racial tension has escalated throughout the day, said police.

A mosque was burgled just after midday, and an Asian man's car was smashed up by white youths shouting abuse.

A large group of Asian youths congregated in the Cobridge area of the town at around 1630BST on Saturday, attacking officers in riot gear with bricks, bottles and broken paving stones.

Police said the arrests were made for damage, assault and public order offences.

The violence followed four days of rioting in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in which more than 200 police officers were injured.

Mohammed Parvez from Staffordshire's Racial Equality Council praised the county's force for its handling of the situation.

He said on Sunday: "Yesterday was an example of how youths can respond to rumours which have no substance at the end of the day."

Mark Fisher, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, has also paid tribute to intelligence work carried out by police, and is calling on all sides to meet to address the problems.

Good relationship

On Saturday a police spokeswoman said the force has a good relationship with Cobridge's Asian community leaders but a small criminal element was intent on causing trouble.

She said the disturbances would be dealt with in a "positive and professional" manner whatever the provocation.

"We are in contact with local community leaders in the area and are keeping an eye on the situation," she said.

Police denied reports of a National Front march in the area and of Asian restaurants having their windows smashed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
"Where there are Asian communities, the rumour mill is working overtime"
Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain
"What has really come out is the lack of contact and liasion between the police and the commmunities"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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