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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Hundreds protest at riot sentences
Youths on the streets of Bradford in July 2001
Some campaigners think the sentences too harsh
Hundreds of protesters have called for more leniency over jail sentences given to those involved in last year's Bradford riots.

About 300 people gathered at St George's Hall in the city on Monday to say the sentences were too harsh.

But many residents believe even stronger sentences should have been handed out.

So far, more than 90 mainly Asian people have been sentenced to an average of four to five years in jail.

Families have previously claimed they were left in a desperate situation because many of those jailed were their main wage earners.

Protest group

They said the courts handed down harsh sentences to have a deterrent effect - and at least one relative has blamed post-11 September Islamaphobia.

They have formed a protest group called "Fair Justice for All" to state their case.

But Audrey Raistrick, the Secretary of the Ravenscliffe Estate Community Forum, said the sentences were not disproportionate.

"I think they deserve all they get," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"This isn't civil disobedience. This is rioting of the worst order.

"I have lived in Bradford 75 years. I was born and brought up in Manningham, I went to school in Manningham, I know the area very well.

"This sort of thing has been imported in and I don't approve of it.

'Shocking' segregation

"I am reflecting the views of a considerable number of people, and they think the sentences were too lenient."

During the violence last year, widely seen as the worst on mainland Britain in 20 years, up to 1,000 Asian and white youths hurled bricks, bottles and petrol bombs at police.

More than 300 officers were injured, and damage estimated at 25m was caused to the city.

Reports into the riot later blamed "shocking" community segregation as one of the root causes.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"Protesters say a blanket approach has been taken"
Imran Khan, defence lawyer
"Differnt criteria were being applied to different communities"

Click here to go to Bradford
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


Background

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See also:

04 Jul 02 | England
11 Dec 01 | England
31 May 02 | England
26 Feb 02 | England
06 Aug 02 | England
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