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Sikh temple: Youngsters appear to trash former Sikh temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend

Six teenagers have been arrested and bailed after a video emerged of a group apparently trashing a former Sikh temple.

The footage was posted on Snapchat, and appears to show a group of youngsters throwing objects, breaking glass and causing damage to the site in Clarence Place.

The youngsters added commentary to the 45 second video, apparently celebrating the destruction.

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Video: Youngsters appear to trash the ex-Sikh temple

On Thursday afternoon, four 16-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy, all from the local area, were arrested in connection with the incident.

A sixth teen was also arrested and they have all since been bailed to appear at a local police station on Wednesday, August 3.

Police say are "not underestimating" the impact of a crime of its nature on the community.

The video, which has gone viral, shows the floor littered with debris, as the youngsters throw plates and long metal objects at items in the temple.

A still from the video, posted last night, of destruction at the old Sikh temple
A still from the video, posted last night, of destruction at the old Sikh temple
Glass is seen on the floor after the attack
Glass is seen on the floor after the attack

More than 1,000 comments have been posted, reacting to the footage.

Tarsem Singh Mahil, general secretary of the Gravesend Gurdwara said: "This is very bad news, and it quite upsetting.

"There is a risk this will cause animosity within different communities, we don't want that.

"It's in the police's hands now, we need to let them deal with this.

Former Sikh temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend
Former Sikh temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend

"The building is empty, but it's been there for more than 40 years as a temple.

"We heard people were sleeping in there at night, they'd brought mattresses in. We kept putting shutters on to keep people out, but it just gets broken into again."

The building is now derelict, but had been used as a place of worship since the early sixties, until 2008, when the community moved to the new gurdwara.

The former temple is due to be sold, but the community has been waiting for planning permission to be approved by the council to turn it into flats, so it can be sold with this permission to a developer.

Mr Mahil added: "The building will eventually be destroyed but it just looks bad, especially if anybody comes along looking to buy it."

People have been squatting in the old Sikh temple
People have been squatting in the old Sikh temple
Damage to the former Sikh temple
Damage to the former Sikh temple

Debra Martin, 53, lives next door to the temple in Clarence Place and said: "We have heard trouble and reported it to the police on countless occasions. It has not been secured and whoever owns it has to take responsibility now.

"We have seen kids going in but there are also adults in there. A lot of people use it and I think there were a couple of arrests a couple of weeks ago - one for drug dealing is what police told us.

"We are just concerned that eventually it is going to go up in flames and we live right next door to it."

Cllr Gurjit Kaur Bains, a member of the temple’s executive committee and Gravesham council's cabinet member for community, declined to comment.

"We do not underestimate the impact that a crime of this nature may have on a community and would like to reassure the public we are taking the report very seriously" - police spokesman

A police spokesman said: "Kent police officers investigating an incident in which damage was reportedly caused to a derelict building in Clarence Place, Gravesend, have arrested five teenagers.

"Police were notified of the incident at 12.07am on Thursday 23 June 2016.

"It is understood that the building was a former Sikh temple and had stood derelict for a number of years.

"Officers are continuing to make enquiries into their investigation of this incident. At the present time there is nothing to suggest this was a hate crime.

"As a result of officers’ enquiries, four 16-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy, all from the local area, have been arrested in connection with the incident.

"We do not underestimate the impact that a crime of this nature may have on a community and would like to reassure the public we are taking the report very seriously.

"We are working closely with the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara and other community partners in establishing the circumstances of this incident. The investigation is currently ongoing."

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