Race problems 'must be solved locally'

Solutions to the weekend's "deeply distressing" race riots in Burnley must be found at the local level, Home Office Minister John Denham said today.

Making an emergency statement in the Commons, he told MPs the whole House would join him in "expressing disgust at the criminal violence ... and the mindless acts of provocation which preceded it".

There could be no excuse for violence and law breaking from any section of the community, he said, and hit out at the "exploitation" of underlying causes by far right groups.

More than 200 youths, some wielding baseball bats, were involved in the disturbances during which riot police battled to keep gangs of Asian and white youths apart.

Shops and cars were set alight and two pubs attacked in the violence, which Mr Denham said appeared to have been sparked by several unrelated incidents.

Welcoming meetings between community leaders in the town today, and telling MPs that a Government minister was also visiting the area, he said talks on the ground were the best way to prevent the situation recurring.

He said: "Burnley has had a good record of race relations and I hope that those who want to build on and take forward that tradition will identify what needs to be done in Burnley over the weeks and months ahead."

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