RAF personnel have been banned from wearing their uniforms in public after suffering abuse in the streets. The order was given to servicemen and women at an air base in Cambridgeshire on the advice of RAF police.
The base commander at RAF Wittering, near Peterborough, took the decision after reviewing incidents of abuse over a seven-month period. Sqd Ldr Tony Walsh, a spokesman at the base, said a number of personnel who lived in the city and its outskirts had suffered abuse when wearing their uniforms off-duty.
The abuse had come from a "cross-section" of the community, he added, and was believed to be linked to the RAF's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Call me an old cynic, but I do wonder about that "cross-section" bit. On the other hand, Peterborough saw five nights of rioting in 2004, more trouble at its Anand Mela that year, was number seven in the top ten local authorities for the number of births, and at least one (Mohammed Choudhary) Labour councillor has been convicted of vote-rigging. Maybe "cross-section" is le mot juste.
UPDATE - this morning Victoria Derbyshire on Five Live opened her show by stating that Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson had claimed a small number of "young Muslim men" were responsible. Alas the first few minutes of her show are not available on the BBC website - by accident or design, it starts a few minutes in. I can't find any corroboration of this anywhere else.
BBC Reporter Stephen Chittenden reported from Peterborough that no-one seems to know exactly what the abuse consisted of, where it happened, who was involved or how many times. Wittering RAF are referring journalists to the MOD. It appears that all we DO know is that they've been asked not to wear uniforms.