An attack on a Sikh schoolboy which was filmed by witnesses is being treated as a hate crime, police have said.

Charlton School in Telford, Shropshire, said it has taken “swift, immediate and appropriate action” over the incident on November 13, including sanctions and targeted intervention for the perpetrators.

The secondary school said in an online statement: “Charlton School is aware of an incident that took place on Friday 13 November involving a number of our students, on their way home from school.

“A police investigation is ongoing, and we are co-operating fully.

“Charlton School works hard to provide a safe, nurturing environment where proactive measures are taken to ensure students are protected from any types of bullying.

“Although this incident did not take place during the normal hours of the school day, we have taken full responsibility for working with all students involved, and the wider school community, to prevent any further such incident from occurring.”

The statement also said the school is in contact with the parents of all those involved, who had told staff they are satisfied with the actions taken.

“The school is also working closely with the local Sikh community and its leaders at this time,” the statement added.

West Mercia Police confirmed it is aware of a video of the incident circulating on social media.

In a tweet, the force said: “This is clearly an incredibly distressing incident. We are treating this as a hate crime and with the utmost seriousness.”

West Mercia Superintendent Jim Baker said: “The boys involved in this incident have been identified and our inquiries are continuing.

“This also includes joint working between our youth offending team and the school to ensure suitable action is taken.

“I know the video has caused significant concern amongst our communities. Our inquiries into the motivation around the incident are continuing and we are working with our local communities to provide reassurance.”

The UK’s National Sikh Police Association described the incident as an “absolutely disgusting” attack on a young Sikh student.

The organisation tweeted: “We trust West Mercia Police and the school involved to handle this matter with the sensitivity it needs.

“We advise the community to avoid contacting the school directly about this matter.”

The Sikh Federation (UK) said it has written to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education asking about actions being taken by his department on hate crimes and bullying of Sikh school children due to their visible identity.

The letter to Gavin Williamson states: “We fear thousands of Sikh children regularly face such acts of physical violence and emotional trauma in the educational system that need to be fully investigated and addressed.”

Last month the Sikh Federation (UK) and the Sikh Network organised a virtual lobby on Anti-Sikh hate involving over 40 MPs.  The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs produced a report on Anti-Sikh hate and is waiting for a response from the Home Secretary and Communities Secretary.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has asked the Education Secretary to provide reassurances to Sikh community representatives and discuss what actions can be taken including raising awareness and understanding of the Sikh identity.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “Bullying and hate against any child is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Good schools develop an ethos to prevent bullying in the first place.  However, when incidents like this come to light those in positions of responsibility at the national and local level must investigate to establish the scale of the problem and respond.” 

“The police have reported there has been a dangerous rise of right-wing extremism and the threat of hateful ideology linked to nationalism that must also be urgently addressed by the education system.”

“The release of the video on social media has highlighted the ever-increasing number of visible Sikh school children who face physical attacks.  This should not be happening in 2020, but we fear thousands of Sikh children face such attacks and intimidation who hide this from parents and teachers.”

The letter to the Education Secretary has been copied to Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs and Lucy Allan MP the Conservative MP for Telford and a member of the APPG who has issued a statement on the Telford incident.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the Labour MP for Slough, said on Twitter he was saddened to see such vile behaviour towards a young boy.

He added: “Bullying and anti-Sikh hate cannot be tolerated.”

In a statement on social media, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John-Paul Campion said he had been reassured by the swift response of officers.

He said: “I am aware of the video circulating relating to an incident in Telford. The incident shows horrific behaviour that is never acceptable.

“As PCC tackling hate crime continues to be a priority – we all have a right to be who we are without fear of the behaviours of others.

“I am reassured the overwhelming majority of the communities of West Mercia find this incident horrific and doesn’t represent their values.”