Police speak about action being taken on shocking assault in Oldham following criticism of initial response

Councillors have called for more visible policing in the area as the alarming attack, which was circulated in appalling footage on social media, has caused concern in the town.

Police have spoken about the action they are taking in relation to a shocking assault in Oldham following criticism of the lack of an initial response.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say three arrests have been made following the assault, which occurred on 21 June in an alleyway off Featherstall Road North, and the teenagers who were detained have been bailed pending further inquiries.

The force has also outlined other measures it is taking to prevent further disorder.

This comes after the police’s initial response to the assault was heavily criticised, with local politicians calling for a more visible police presence on the streets in the area to allay local fears.

GMP has apologised as it is widely perceived in the town that the police were too slow off the mark in responding to the assault.

What initially happened?

The assault came to light when footage of the attack was posted on social media and quickly went viral.

In the disturbing video a young man is seen being beaten by an number of people in the alleyway off Featherstall Road North.

Blood can be seen pouring from the victim’s face as he is pinned down and repeatedly hit and kicked whilst screaming on the floor.

One of the attackers shouts ‘strip him’ and his clothes are then ripped off during the vicious attack before he is left naked and in a bloodied heap on the floor.

Police say there were related attacks on Saturday night (2 July) at three properties in the Westwood and Werneth areas of Oldham, believed to be ‘in retaliation to the video of the assault being circulated online’.

Social media videos, understood to be from the early hours of Sunday morning (3 July), show dozens of people on a street, throwing projectiles at a house and smashing windows.

What are the police doing in relation to the assault?

Oldham’s Chief Superintendent, Chris Bowen, outlined the measures police are taking over the assault on Tuesday (5 July).

He said: “We are working closely with the local community and have increased patrols in the area, as well as having a team of detectives working hard to further identify those involved in the initial assault, as well as the subsequent disorder over the weekend.

“In addition to this, a Section 60 order has been granted, which will come into effect from this afternoon (5 July). Under Section 60, officers have increased powers to stop search anyone within a defined area and those found to be carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons will be prosecuted.

“I am aware that the events of the last few days will be causing concern and worry among the local community and I want to reassure people that we are doing all we can to prevent further disorder and bring those who have been involved to justice.

“I would also like to appeal to the community to refrain from speculating about the incidents on social media, as this could potentially jeopardise our investigation. We are currently following up on a number of lines of enquiry and what I can say at this stage is that the assault back in June is not being treated as a hate crime.”

What have politicians said about the police’s actions?

Coun Jean Stretton, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Oldham Council, said: “We are aware that arrests have been made following a serious assault in the Westwood area on 21 June. We are working closely with police and their investigation is ongoing.

“While that investigation takes place, I would please ask people to stay calm and allow the police to do their work, so those responsible can be brought to justice. The most important thing for all of us in Oldham is the safety of everyone in our communities.

“It is important that this horrific attack does not divide us. It is also crucial that anyone who may have information relating to this crime speaks directly with the police.”

What happened in the run-up to Monday’s announcement?

Following the footage of the brutal attack being shared online community leaders, the police and councillors all gathered in public on Sunday (3 July) to update hundreds of concerned residents.

Coldhurst ward member Abdul Jabbar was part of the public meeting in the Anchor Business Park car park, off Featherstall Road.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he did not believe that there would be further acts of retribution following the arrests.

Inspector Alan Sanders, of GMP’s Oldham District apologised to residents on Sunday for the perception that ‘police have been slow on the uptake with this’. However he said they ‘know things’ more now than they did on June 21, and have ‘quite rightly stepped up our investigation’.

Coun Jabbar said: “People felt like nothing was being done about it and there was a sense of anger.

“My understanding of all this is when the video became available, that’s when everybody became aware of what was happening.

“Everybody is outraged by what we saw on the footage of that video and we need to now work with the police to get the perpetrators brought to justice.

“Three individuals were arrested and they have got more leads and I hope further arrests will be made.”

He added they have asked GMP for more ‘visual policing’ in the area, ‘especially now’.

“We need more police definitely, but you cannot cover every area with police officers,” Coun Jabbar said.

“I don’t know if you can stop something like this if people are determined to do something like that. We are concerned and outraged by it, but I hope this is just a very, very rare one off incident that’s happened.

“I don’t think anyone should be afraid, this is a terrible incident that’s happened but police are dealing with it.

“We are doing everything we can to manage the situation and we have asked for more visible policing and for more police to be deployed so that people have got that reassurance.

“We will be watching things very closely. I am not seeing any retribution being planned or anything like that, I think it happened on Saturday night because people felt two weeks had elapsed and nothing had happened.

“The reassurance the community is looking for is for the perpetrators to be caught and brought to justice for this horrendous act.

“The focus now is to catch them and support this young man who has had the most horrific experience.”

What should anyone with information about the assault do?

GMP has urged anyone who has information about what happened to come forward and contact them by ringing 101 and quoting log number 1708 of the date 3 July. Alternatively, information can be passed on, anonymously, via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police said information, as well as photos and videos, could be submitted through GMP’s online portal here.