Attack was racially motivated, say police

Date published: 24 February 2010

POLICE have declared that a vicious assault in Westwood was racially motivated.

The Chronicle revealed on Monday that four white teenagers were jumped by a group of seven Asian males, aged in their late teens, on Featherstall Road North last Wednesday.

The victims told the Chronicle they feared it was a racially-motivated attack. But the GMP press office twice told the Chronicle, including when checks were made on Monday morning, that they did not believe there was a racial element and had classed the crime as common assault.

This led to complaints that Oldham Police was refusing to abide by requirements in the classification of race attacks as the definition states: “A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.”

New Chief Superintendent Tim Forber then wrote to the Chronicle to say the incident was being treated as a hate crime - but not at the behest of the victim.

He wrote: “This incident is being treated as a hate crime, despite the fact that none of the victims made any representation to the police at the time that it had racial overtones, or that they perceived it as such.

“The decision was made by the police following a review the morning after the offence, on account of the fact that there had been two similar incidents in that area in the preceding days when racist language was used.

“All three incidents involved groups of Asian youths and white victims and the similarities were such that it was deemed the most appropriate course of action.”

The Hate Crime Unit is now investigating all three incidents and two men have been arrested in connection with the first two, with one charged with robbery. Extra patrols are continuing in the area.

Mr Forber added: “Racially motivated crime is wholly abhorrent in all its forms and Greater Manchester Police vigorously investigates all allegations of hate crime, irrespective of the ethnic heritage of the victim or offender.

“If a victim perceives that a crime was racially motivated then it will be treated as such by the police, irrespective of what was said at the time of the incident.”

The Westwood attack left Patrick O’Brien (18), from Coldhurst, needing hospital treatment after suffering cuts and bruises from being kicked and punched in the head and ribs. The other victims were left badly shaken.

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