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How safe are our streets?

AN OUTRAGED mum posed the question: "How safe are our streets?" after a gang of drunken youths attacked her 14-year-old daughter.

AN OUTRAGED mum posed the question: "How safe are our streets?" after a gang of drunken youths attacked her 14-year-old daughter.

The attack on Stephanie Turner and her boyfriend Ashley Bridge is the latest in a series of violent incidents to shock Hyndburn.

And mum Denise fears some areas of the town are becoming no-go zones, particularly at night.

Stephanie, a Hollins Technology College pupil, was walking along Blackburn Road to Accrington bus station with Ashley when they were set upon and repeatedly thumped in the face by a throng of jeering teenagers.

In the apparently unprovoked and motiveless attack, five youths rained down blows on Ashley, 15, after he had pleaded with the gang to leave them alone.

Stephanie, of Lowergate Road, Huncoat, suffered split lips and facial bruises. Ashley, of Burnley Road, Accrington, who attends Moorhead High School, suffered headaches all night and was taken to hospital the following day with suspected concussion.

Furious Mrs Turner said: "It is shocking that people can't walk the streets safely these days. They're only youngsters and they were absolutely terrified. Stephanie was screaming at them to leave Ashley alone, which led one lad to hit her in the mouth and shout a load of abuse."

"She came home with blood all over her face and coat. She couldn't believe that this gang of about 12 were all laughing during the attack."

"She was still holding Ashley's hand when they began thumping him. They wouldn't leave him alone, they just kept laughing. We think they were drunk."

Mrs Turner, who lives with Stephanie, her brother Gavin, 12, and sister Jessica, 10, added: "This has knocked me sideways. It is so frustrating because I doubt if they'll be caught. Stephanie and Ashley didn't know where to run."

The attack happened under the railway bridge in Blackburn Road at about 8.50pm on Tuesday after the gang wouldn't let the couple and two of their friends past them on the pavement.

The attackers were all described as Asian and wearing hooded tops.

Inspector Julian Platt, Accrington's police chief, said: "This incident is deeply concerning to the police."

"We are trying our best to reassure the public about violent assaults by increasing the number of patrols and working in partnership with licensees to monitor levels of alcohol sales."

He added that the apparent increase in violent attacks was not in keeping with national figures.

He said: "The most vulnerable people tend to be men in their 30s, who are more likely to be out socialising and drinking to excess. Women in their 50s, who are most afraid of crime, are least likely to be affected."

"The current increase is a blip. These crimes are usually related to alcohol."

Greg Pope, Hyndburn's MP, agreed alcohol was a major factor in fuelling the horrific attacks. He said: "It is really worrying but part of a national trend. There is a real problem with binge drinking."

"Police need extra resources, and their numbers in Accrington are up compared to five years ago."

"But it's not just a police problem. It's a society issue of whether violence is an acceptable way of resolving conflict."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist