The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry re-opened the debate on tensions between the authorities and the city's disaffected Asian youth. Just how much has changed since the Manningham disturbances of June 1995? Sarah Walsh reports.

THREE AND a half years have gone by since Manningham was rocked by two nights of rioting.

That's plenty of time for Bradford's powers-that-be to chew over the disaster and put plans into action to heal those wounds.

In one of the fiercest submissions to the Lawrence Inquiry this week, Mohammed Taj, one of three commissioners appointed to examine the background to the riots, claimed the police had learned nothing from the experience and that the force was still 'absolutely riddled with racism'.

Bradford police stress that half of the district's 1,000 police officers have now completed a cultural awareness training programme, designed with local residents' help.

City leaders have meanwhile made a successful bid for £9.7 million to boost education and training for Manningham youngsters.

But Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe is among others who question whether Bradford as a city has yet got to grips with the issues raised in the summer of 1995.

"I do not feel a lot has been learnt, and part of the reason for that is the way Bradford is structured - not just the Council but all the quangos like the TEC," he said. "I would like to see a smaller all-party executive group running the council, it would give a stronger steer to the city and they would be able to call the police to account - ask them what they have done about this."

Ishtiaq Ahmed, director of the Bradford Racial Equality Council said: "To say the police have done nothing is extreme.

"Although late, they have picked up the issue of training. It's taken a long time to sort out, but the police force is a large institution and fairly cumbersome in terms of hierarchy - it takes time to push anything through.

"It's the individual beat officers who need to get their attitudes right. They are the ones arresting people and attending incidents. One officer can undo all the good work that may be going on in a particular area."

Superintendent Dave Richard-son, of Bradford Central police, said: "All the officers in Central and Odsal divisions have gone through cultural awareness training and we are currently carrying out the programme in the Toller Lane division.

"Yes, it has taken time but we wanted to get the programme right and we wanted community involvement and community participation and delivery in the Toller area. That way, the programme will be worthy of rolling out to the whole district."

A successful initiative in Eccleshill, where 200 officers carried cards detailing 'dos and don'ts' on how to handle racial incidents sensitively, would be extended throughout Bradford.

He said some of Mohammed Taj's suggestions were already force policy (for example racist acts by police officers being a sackable offence - at least two police officers in West Yorkshire have been sacked for this reason); others were impractical.

Councillor Shaukat Ahmed (Lab, University) said Manning-ham and its young, disaffected Asian population would be given a huge boost by £9.7 million from the Single Regeneration Budget.

This would fund education and skills training to help young people land real jobs; but training will not start until April 1999.

Timetable of events since the riots

June 10 and 11 1995: Two nights of rioting leave £1m trail of destruction.

July 1995: Formation of Manning-ham Young People's Forum, a voice for youngsters which went on to win two awards.

November 19 1996: Insp Martin Bai-nes becomes city's first Community and Race Relations officer.

November 20 1996: Publication of official riots report by Bradford Commission. Damning 213-page report highlights a lack of vision, direction or strategy among city leaders. The criticises 'ignorance' of police but fails to make any specific recommendations.

November 25 1996: 'Rebel' commissioner Mohammed Taj, who declined to sign the official riots report, publishes his own report, called A Can Do City. He makes a range of specific recommendations for action by the police, Bradford Council, employers and members of ethnic minority communities themselves.

December 19 1996: Local Government Minister David Curry hits out at Bradford Council for dragging its heels over the riots report after the T&A reveals how it would not be debated at City Hall for three months.

December 20 1996: Asian youngsters organise a football game against a police team in a bid to build bridges with Toller Lane Police.

January 20 1997: West Yorkshire Chief Constable Keith Hellawell pledges action over criticisms in both riots reports which he said were valid.

March 21 1997: Bradford Council publishes 40-page action plan in response to riots report. The plan blames 'catastrophic social exclusion and poverty' and announces detailed plans to fight the problem.

March 26 1997: Police announce new race awareness strategies in response to riots report. These include new ethnic minority recruitment officer (since redeployed to another job).

March 1997: Independent researchers quiz 450 young people in the Toller Lane area, discovering that 80 per cent "found their local police helpful".

November 1997: The beginnings of trouble involving Asian youths on Plot Night in Girlington are successfully quelled by community leaders and police working together.

March 30 1998: Good news as Manningham and Girlington win £9.7 million Single Regeneration Budget cash for young people's education and skills training.

July 8 1998: Council trumpets progress report showing what it has achieved since riots: points to new Youth Justice Forum, two new community safety coordinators, drugs and training initiatives.

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