The Daily Telegraph
Riot squads on standby in Leicester
Police call reinforcements to quell violence between Hindu and Muslim youths fuelled by social media
POLICE in Leicester have drafted in riot squads and mounted units in an effort to quell the ongoing disorder and violence between youths from the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Fifteen people were arrested on Sunday after rival gangs, many wearing masks, gathered in the east of the city.
Violence had flared the night before in a series of large-scale disturbances following an unplanned protest.
Police officers from other forces who had been due to be deployed in London to assist with the Queen’s funeral were sent to Leicester instead. Horses from Thames Valley Police were also dispatched to the East Midlands.
A total of 47 people have been arrested in connection with the disturbances with one person jailed.
Amos Noronha, 20, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon in connection with the violence.
The latest sectarian disorder follows weeks of rising tension. Trouble first erupted after the Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan which was played in Dubai on Aug 28.
After the game there were clashes in the Belgrave area of Leicester which resulted in eight people being arrested. Further violence broke out on Sept 5 with 27 people detained for questioning.
Inflammatory comments and rumours on social media have fuelled tensions, according to the city’s mayor. Leicestershire Police have condemned the violence and have called for dialogue between representatives from both communities.
Officers from neighbouring forces, as well as a specialist mounted unit, were brought in at the weekend to support the operation.
A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: “Officers became aware of groups of young men gathering on Sunday afternoon in the North Evington area of the city.
“Officers spoke to them and took steps, including putting in place a temporary police cordon, to minimise harm and disturbance to communities.”
The spokesman added that special stop-and-search powers had also been introduced to keep the peace in the city.
He went on: “The impact this disorder is having on our local communities is not acceptable. We will not tolerate violence, disorder or intimidation in Leicester and we continue to call for calm and dialogue. Our police operations and investigations continue with rigour and at scale.”
Sir Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester, said he was baffled by the disturbances and insisted the city was normally “very peaceful” with good relations between communities.
He blamed people posting videos and comments on social media for distorting the facts and inflaming the tensions.
Sir Peter said some of the posts on social media were “completely lying” about what had been happening between different communities. “I have talked to community leaders and they are doing what they can to bring Leicester to normal because in Leicester, normal is very good relations between people of different faiths.
“They and I, while being baffled by it, are also disturbed by it. But we are all confident Leicester is resilient enough to be able to return to normal relations.”
Sir Peter also said people from other areas of the country, including Birmingham, had been travelling to Leicester to take part in the disorder.
Earlier this month, faith leaders from both communities held an emergency meeting at which concerns were raised over inaccurate or exaggerated claims on social media of attacks on community members leading to tit-for-tat responses.
‘The impact this disorder is having is not acceptable. We will not tolerate violence or intimidation’