POLICE in Oldbury have made ‘reducing community tension’ between Sikhs and Muslims its top priority after repeated clashes between young males from the two communities.

The Oldbury Neighbourhood Policing Team is ‘tackling and reducing tension’ after meeting worried residents at a neighbourhood meeting at Burntree Primary School.

A police spokesman said: “Following recent disorders involving groups of young Muslim and Sikh males, community tension has been perceived to be rising in the Burntree and Temple Way areas.

“In order to identify the underlying problems, neighbourhood officers have attempted to engage community leaders from both communities with a view to improving relations.

The police are working hard to diffuse tensions and are cooperating with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in a bid to calm the situation down even extending its operation into local schools.

And in a newsletter to residents the police promised: “The local neighbourhood policing team are currently working with partners to reduce tensions in these areas.

“The Police and the Council are looking to engage the community at the forthcoming surgeries to discuss the needs of the community and officers have also worked alongside local schools to monitor tensions.”

After investigating the disorders the police have had some success, already singling out several troublemakers from each side.

The police spokesman said: “The neighbourhood police team has taken positive action against a number of individuals within each group with a view to prosecution Officers are also working closely with youngsters in the area of all backgrounds.”

As well as the simmering racial tensions the Burntree area is blighted with chronic anti-social behaviour including blatant drug taking and underage drinking.

The police spokesman added: “At the recent neighbourhood forum for Oldbury, residents highlighted anti-social behaviour in the Burnt Tree area as a particular concern.

“Residents reported anti-social behaviour at the Monins Avenue canal basin, with many feeling intimidated by groups of young males who are congregating in the area and issues such as drug use and underage drinking were also highlighted.

“The neighbourhood policing team aims to tackle these issues by identifying the group responsible, and taking positive action where appropriate.”

Following more complaints from residents police have also stepped up patrols in the Ashtree Road area.

Officers will be aiming to serve fixed penalty notices for underage drinking and identify troublesome youngsters who will be served anti-social behaviour contracts.

The next Oldbury Neighbourhood Police Surgery is at 1pm to 3pm on Friday August 21 at Oldbury Library, Church St, Oldbury.