The UK government on Friday announced an independent review into the unrest that took place in the city of Leicester last year as community groups clashed in the wake of an India-Pakistan cricket match in Dubai.
UK Communities Secretary Michael Gove has commissioned the review under the chairmanship of Lord Ian Austin, former Minister for Housing and Planning and former Minister for the West Midlands. His Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said that in September 2022, community tensions led to a spate of vandalism, assaults, and attacks on places of worship and other properties in Leicester, in some cases highlighting divisions between different groups across the city and beyond.
The Indian government had raised the issue diplomatically at the time after a temple in the city was among the sites vandalised in the clashes, which resulted in several arrests. The clashes occurred in the wake of the India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match in Dubai at the end of August last year.
“Leicester has a proud history of community cohesion, which makes last year’s disorder all the more shocking and upsetting,” said Gove.
“This review will build a thorough understanding of the specific events that took place and what can be learned from them. I have spoken to both the Home Secretary [Suella Braverman] and the Mayor of Leicester to underline the importance of protecting all parts of the community in Leicester, and we will not tolerate attempts to foster division or violence among people or between religious groups,” he said.
Austin will lead an independent panel of experts, to be appointed in due course, to work on understanding the origins of the unrest and explore how similar events can be prevented in the future, both in Leicester and elsewhere.
“Acceptance of each other’s background and beliefs is at the heart of our national identity. Communities living and working together have formed some of the most vibrant societies across the country and cities such as Leicester have proud histories of tolerance and diversity,” said Austin. “This makes the scenes we witnessed in Leicester last year all the more worrying and it is therefore so important that we listen to people in Leicester to get to the bottom of what happened and why,” he said.
The government said the review panel would establish the facts of what took place over the period of unrest and a sequence of events; present an analysis of the causes of the unrest; make practical recommendations for how similar events that may arise in future could be prevented; and set out proposals and ideas for strengthening social cohesion locally.
“I hope the review can move forward as swiftly as possible, whilst, of course, being thorough and given the attention it deserves. I would want Leicester and other cities to be able to learn from its findings and to understand what needs to be done to ensure that our community cohesion is never again threatened in this way,” said Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
The timeline and further details of the independent review will be set out as the panel is appointed.