Police launch probe into race hate crime spree

Councillor Bill Henderson at Westerhailes Park. Picture: Lesley Martin
Councillor Bill Henderson at Westerhailes Park. Picture: Lesley Martin
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HEADSCARVES have been torn off two Muslim women amid a spate of racist attacks carried out by children as young as eight.

The young women, said to in their early 20s, were left ­“traumatised” by the ordeal that saw two children hurl ­racist abuse before ripping off the hijabs. The culprits are believed to be aged eight and 14.

The incident, on Tuesday afternoon, follows a spike in hate crimes against Polish and Muslim residents at Wester Hailes Park over the past week.

Cars have been vandalised with spray paint and racist slogans daubed in a stairwell.

A Polish man and woman have also reported a sustained campaign of racist abuse by youths that culminated in a stone-throwing attack.

Beefed-up police patrols are now in place to crack down on the disorder. Area police inspector Stevie Dolan has moved to reassure ethnic minorities fearing for their safety.

He branded the incidents “unacceptable” and vowed to trace the children responsible.

Inspector Dolan said: “Since last Monday there has been a spate of incidents and there isn’t normally a significant number of hate crimes reported in that area.

“We need to make sure other members of the community of an ethnic minority background know the police are treating this seriously. We need to reassure members of the Muslim community that we are doing our utmost to trace those responsible.”

He added: “I have officers committed to this ­full-time.”

Police have approached local schools as part of the investigation and are poring over CCTV footage for evidence.

An appeal has been made to local parents to speak to their children about their activities when not at home while ­residents have been asked to come forward with information which might aid the probe.

Sammy Lowrie, 39, said there had been racial tensions in Wester Hailes in the past, but believed the community had outgrown them.

He said: “The area’s reputation is again being marred when it should be ­recognised as an improved housing scheme.”

Ward councillor Bill ­Henderson branded the attacks “shocking”, adding: “It’s alarming to me and I want to see this stamped out.

“Perhaps we could move some officers from Oxgangs to Wester Hailes and crack down on this right now. We need to nip this in the bud and lift these people off the streets.”

Foysol Choudhury, chairman of Edinburgh & Lothian Regional Equality Council, said the police and local authority should co-operate to help the victims of racial attacks and catch the culprits.

“We totally condemn what’s happened here and strongly urge the police and local ­politicians to take action,” he said.

A police spokesman said a 14-year-old boy had been arrested in connection with an incident and a report was being sent to the procurator fiscal