While calm has been restored in Leicester amid “proactive patrols”, local MP Claudia Webbe has said people in her constituency left traumatised by the recent violence are too “scared” to go out.
Community tensions in the English city, apparently sparked by a cricket match between India and Pakistan in Dubai last month, escalated over the weekend leading to 47 arrests and two convictions for possessing offensive weapons.
Webbe said “people have told me they haven’t left their homes” since the confrontation began following the August 28 T20 match between the two Asian rivals.
She told the Independent that the city’s residents, “particularly women and young people, “are petrified, (and) very scared”.
“They are being asked to be fearful of their neighbours, people they’ve grown up with side by side for decades,” the MP for Leicester East said and quoted factory workers as saying they “downed tools to go home and protect their families.”
Leicestershire Police’s temporary chief constable Rob Nixon also admitted locals “have been afraid”. But he asserted that his officers had taken “robust action” to deal with the “small number” of people who “have tried to cause division, have committed crimes, and seek disorder.”
In an open letter posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Nixon vehemently denied the police had supported the unplanned protest in East Leicester on Saturday.
Media reports said the protest on that day involved some 300 Hindu men who initially marched towards the Highfields, an area known for having a high proportion of Muslim population.
As another group also descended on the scene, police issued a dispersal order.
Video footage on social media showed a few police officers walking beside the protesters who marched down Green Lane Road. It led to the accusations that the police allowed the protest to go ahead.
Nixon said, “I am making clear that police did not support an unplanned protest in East Leicester”.
As there was “no direct intelligence” about the extent of the crowd, police officers went there “to try to engage and seek co-operation,” he said.
“They were confronted by in excess of 300 people and there were eight officers at the time,” he said and reiterated that the personnel “did the best they could in the circumstances by staying with them until more officers could arrive.”
He said officers also dealt with those who had posted on social media that they planned to come from Birmingham to Leicester.
He said the force was aware of a video showing a flag being pulled down outside a religious building on Melton Road in the city on Saturday.
He said police officers could not reach the troublemaker on the building as they were “dealing with a large crowd directly in front of them at the time”.
Investigation into the violence continued, he said and hinted at more arrests.