Fighting yobs mar Christmas lights switch-on in Stoke city centre
POLICE have condemned yobs who descended on the city centre to cause trouble at the Christmas lights switch-on.
Three teenagers were arrested after officers and police dogs were sent to tackle disorder at Hanley bus station.
Thousands of people had earlier braved the rain to see Stoke City manager Tony Pulis and Olympic hockey star Imran Sherwani turn on the lights in Fountain Square.
But police received several reports of a disturbance at the bus station following the event.
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Inspector Ian Hancock, from Stoke-on-Trent Central Local Policing Team, said officers were now working to trace those involved in what he called an 'appalling incident'.
He said: "It would appear groups of young people and young adults arrived at the city centre following the Christmas light switch-on intent on being involved in public disorder.
"Additional police resources were called in, including police dogs, to deal with these issues and make arrests as appropriate.
"This is an appalling incident to occur when the city was coming together to celebrate the start of the Christmas festivities.
"Officers will be looking further into the incident and will be visiting people identified who were attempting to cause disorder.
"We are aware that rumours are circulating on social networking sites that someone was stabbed. We can confirm there were no such significant injuries or incidents."
Police were called to the bus station at 8.30pm. Two boys, aged 16 and 17, and a 14-year-old girl were arrested in connection with the disorder.
The 17-year-old was later charged with being in possession of a bladed article in a public place and will appear in court next month. The two other teenagers were questioned before being released on bail until January.
The event was organised by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the City Centre Partnership.
Doug Wardle, of the City Centre Partnership traders' group, said: "It's a shame that youngsters want to cause trouble and spoil other people's enjoyment. The switch-on event itself went very well and there was a highly visible police presence."
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, also condemned those involved in the trouble.
She said: "I am devastated to hear of this incident occurring after our important community celebration and I commend the police for their prompt actions. It is a shame that some people feel that they can spoil Christmas celebrations for others. I would like to underline that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated over the holiday period and I hope people will assist police in their investigations so justice can be swiftly served."
Mrs Bridges also stressed that the incident did not affect the main event. "The Christmas lights switch-on event was a successful, well-attended family celebration," she said.
Anyone with information can call Police on 101 quoting incident number 722 of November 22.