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UK: Bristol Police Apologise to Sikh Taxi Driver

December 4, 2014 | By

Bristol: A Bristol Post news says Avon and Somerset Police have issued an apology to a Sikh taxi driver who was the victim of a vicious hate crime.

The Sikh man was attacked by a group of drunken women in Bishopsworth in September 2013. Five of them were on their way from Bristol to Swindon, and had got into his taxi. One of them approached the taxi driver, ripped his turban from his head and set it alight.

She was cautioned by police at the time, but not charged until months later, after a campaign. As well as this, the other four women who were involved in the attack were never prosecuted or even cautioned.

Avon and Somerset Police have had to apologise to the man for their initial handling of the case.

The woman was later prosecuted and pleaded guilty in court, after a large campaign by the man’s friends and family, as well as groups in the city which campaign against hate crimes.

Speaking anonymously to BBC Radio, the man said he had lost faith in the police force, and wanted assurances from the authority that the police would take action if an incident like this were to happen again.

He is now scared to go out again in his taxi cab.

The man’s complaint was supported by SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality). Assistant Director at SARI, Alex Raikes, said: “On this occasion they (the police) didn’t take it seriously. They didn’t get the impact of a turban being ripped off and set on fire. They didn’t appreciate that that is like an attack on a person, like a serious sexual offence for a Sikh person.”

Jon Reilly, Area Commander for Avon and Somerset Police admitted that a mistake had been made in only cautioning one woman, but said police were making efforts to meet with the community and take hate crimes seriously.

On the night of the attack, there was a full police investigation and two arrests were made. An inspector took the decision to issue a caution.

Area Commander of Bristol, Chief Superintendent Jon Reilly said:

We take all incidents of hate crime very seriously and encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward and report it to us.

We acknowledge our mistake in issuing a caution in the first instance and we are very sorry for the delay and upset caused by this.

The application to rescind the original caution and bring the case to court instead had to be cleared by the regional

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