Home Secretary vows to tackle ‘disorder and thuggery’ after Leicester meetings

Home Secretary Suella Braverman met police in Leicester (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman met police in Leicester (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

The Home Secretary has weighed in on the unrest in Leicester, saying “disorder and thuggery” will face “the full force of the law” after meeting community leaders and police.

Suella Braverman insisted she was focused on how to “restore safety and harmony” to the city after the scenes on Saturday and Sunday which led to 47 arrests.

Residents in Leicester, celebrated for its diversity, have been shocked by images of groups of men, mainly masked or hooded and including members of the Hindu and Muslim communities, in tense confrontations and stand-offs on the city’s streets.

In a tweet on Thursday, the Home Secretary said she had met Leicestershire Police officers, temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon and community leaders to discuss action over the unrest.

“We’ll work together on this, and I will do everything I can to support communities and our police. Those who bring disorder and thuggery to our streets will face the full force of the law & I thank all those brave police officers for keeping us safe,” she said.

Ms Braverman said she had also spoken to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, and would “continue to monitor the situation and thank the police for their expert handling”.

It comes after Leicestershire Police warned of misinformation being spread online and the challenges it posed for the area’s communities.

A “fake” message purporting to be from the Hindu and Jain community of Leicester was said to have been circulated, prompting temples and leaders to issue a statement discrediting it.

Independent MP for Leicester East Claudia Webbe previously said some social media accounts appeared to be “preying on this unease” by “spreading misinformation”.

She wrote to Leicestershire Police’s temporary Chief Constable urging vigilance, and passing on reports “of incitement to hate targeting at those of Muslim of Hindu faith”.

The BBC reported that an independent review would take place into the disorder following a meeting of community leaders, councillors and local police on Wednesday evening.

The city has seen no repeat of the scenes from the weekend, with Leicestershire Police saying on Tuesday there were “no reports of disorder” overnight.

Across the community there have been repeated calls for restraint, most recently from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which said “hatred of any kind has no place in our society”.

The collective leadership of many of the main Hindu and Jain temples have also appealed “for calm in the city”.

Some of those detained after trouble in the city’s east were from Birmingham, according to the force, which also said 25 of its officers and a police dog were injured.

The vast majority of Leicester’s Hindu and Muslim communities are law abiding and continue to enjoy longstanding good relations

Jonathan Ashworth

Leicester’s troubles have also taken on an international dimension. The High Commission of India and, on Tuesday, the Pakistan High Commission have both issued statements, condemning violence against the Hindu and Muslim communities, respectively.

On Monday, the MCB hit out at what it called “the targeting of Muslim communities in Leicester by far-right Hindutva groups”, “mob-attacks on Muslims” and vandalism of homes and businesses “in recent months”.

However, the city’s Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), while urging calm, also called for careful language and stressed the dangers of attributing the trouble to one group or another.

The FMO strongly cautioned against using terms “like Hindutva”, which was “strictly related to this fascist extreme minority” because “such terms can demonise an entire community unfairly”.

Ms Webbe said constituents had told her trouble had been simmering for months.

Urging police to stay vigilant, she detailed “serious concerns” of residents, afraid to leave their homes at night after reports of violence in the Belgrave area of the city following India’s victory over Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket match on August 28.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, called the recent troubles a “dark episode” in a city where he and residents “rightly pride ourselves on celebrating our diversity”.

He said: “It has always been the case – re-confirmed from my conversations across communities – that the vast majority of Leicester’s Hindu and Muslim communities are law abiding and continue to enjoy long-standing good relations.

“These strengths will help us through this dark episode.”