Posted on February 24, 2012

Mob of 200 Youths Pelt Police with Bricks and Smash Up Shops ‘In Anger at On-Going Sex Grooming Trial’

Charles Walford, Daily Mail (London), February 24, 2012

Police were pelted with bricks and other missiles last night as hundreds of youths went on the rampage.

Takeaways were targeted in an evening of disorder understood to be linked to the on-going trial of a suspected grooming gang at Liverpool Crown Court.

A mob of around 200 youths congregated in the centre of the Heywood area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, last night as trouble began.

One shop-owner told how he was abused by a group of youths , who called him a ‘dirty b*stard’.

A police officer suffered bruising to his legs and arms in the disturbances.

A car belonging to a member of the public and three police vehicles were also damaged.

Greater Manchester Police has confirmed more police will be out on patrol today amid fears of a second night of violence.

A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and police assault and a 14-year-old boy was arrested for causing danger to a public highway.

The area became swamped with police in riot vans and the mob of young people was eventually dispersed by officers at about 11pm.

Zeeshan Khokhar, 23, owner of Bits n Pizza, a take-away on Market Street, said he was verbally abused, though his shop was not damaged.

Mr Khokhar said ‘white friends’ came to his shop to protect him as trouble began brewing.

He said: ‘It started about 4pm, kids banging on windows. They were shouting, “Why are you still open you dirty b*******?”.

‘The police came and told us to shut up shop. We are just doing business.

‘Our white friends, they came here and they are protecting us and customers were standing outside our door.

‘They said we have just come to keep an eye on you.

‘But it’s not good, it hurts and we are very worried about what’s going to happen.’

Mr Khokhar said he only took over the shop seven weeks ago and his business has nothing to do with the trial in Liverpool.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said last night: ‘Greater Manchester Police, in conjunction with its partners and communities, is aware of the tensions in the borough that have come about because of an on-going court case in Liverpool.

‘I understand that there will be concern following this evening’s events, and to offer reassurance there is a significant police presence in the area this evening.

We will maintain and increase police presence in the coming weeks to keep up our reassurance.

‘We ask that the community acts responsibly during this difficult time.

‘We are monitoring social media sites and ask anybody who is concerned or has information to share with us to go either through their local neighbourhood policing team, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by GMP using the 101 service.’

Inspector Steve Clark, GMP’s neighbourhood police inspector for Heywood said: ‘There were a number of young children out this evening and I would like to ask that their parents are conscious of this in the coming days and weeks.’