Police are investigating a rash of race-hate stickers which have been posted in the streets of South Tyneside.
The Islamophobic and anti-immigration stickers have been found in both Horlsey Hill and South Shields Market Place in recent days.
Northumbria Police and South Tyneside Council have been informed of the stickers, which are appearing on lampposts and bus stop windows.
The far-right group, the North West Infidels, has its logo on some of the stickers, while others appear to be sanctioned by the neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18.
When the Gazette approached the Infidels for a comment, a member of the organisation Tweeted: “I’m glad they’re up and being seen.”
A Horsley Hill resident was horrified when she first noticed the images appearing on Cheviot Road and Norham Road North.
She said: “I spotted the first one last month I phoned the council to get it removed.
“It’s just not right, they shouldn’t be there. They’re awful.”
She added: “The council came out and removed it but more and more are appearing. There’s quite a few in the area now.
“I’ve phoned the council back up and I’ve also reported them to the police yesterday - it needs to stop.”
The images in Horsley Hill display the popular man’s name ‘Mohammad’ and list a number of defamatory statements underneath.
There is one stating “Combat 18 operates in this area”
Others state “refugees not welcome.”
A sticker at the Market Place, just yards from the town’s new library and digital media centre The Word, which opens next month, refers to refuges as ‘rapefugees’.
A 29-year-old who noticed the literature said: “We have a brand new digital centre opening up next month which will hopefully attract lots of visitors, not just from our area, but further afield. Imagine if people end up seeing stickers like these?
“It’s embarrassing to think visitors might believe we approve of such behaviour like this in South Shields.
“Well we don’t, it’s a multicultural town and there’s no room for racism and hatred here.”
Police are now encouraging the public to report any stickers they may spot in the down.
South Shields Neighbourhood Inspector John Smith said: “This type of literature will not be tolerated in South Shields and anyone caught posting them should expect to be put before the court.
“This material has been removed and anyone who has any information relating to the posters should contact the South Shields Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.”
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Reducing racism is one of the top priorities of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership and, as always, we are extremely concerned by these stickers appearing in public places.
“We are taking this very seriously and are removing them as quickly as we can. We are also working closely with our partners at Northumbria Police to try and stamp out this disgraceful behaviour.
“Earlier this month councillors reaffirmed their commitment to tackling any form of racism or xenophobia.
“I would appeal to members of the public who spot any of the offensive stickers to report it by calling 0191 427 7000. Together we can remove them from our streets.
“Racism will not be tolerated in South Tyneside and we are working to create a society that is free from prejudice.”
Not the first time racist posters have sparked outrage
In March A5 stickers – from a group called the Northern Patriotic Front – suggested that refugees were racists and featured the words, ‘Attention! ********* not welcome’ and ‘Stay away’.
The images, which also featured a drawing of a woman running from a mob armed with knives, were stuck to a telephone exchange box outside South Tyneside District Hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields.
A 29-year-old resident said at the time: “I was really offended when I saw it. Everyone has their own views but I don’t think an attitude like this is shared by people in South Shields, which is home to people of many different cultures. “Refugees are fleeing their own horrific circumstances then they come here. I wouldn’t want them to think that this is the way we all think.”
When contacted by the Gazette, a spokesman for the Northern Patriotic Front said he didn’t know how the poster had ended up in public view. The group has a PO Box in Sunderland.
The man, who refused to give his name, said: “They’re not intended for fly-posting. They are for the personal use of group members, so there’s nothing we can do about that.
“It doesn’t suggest all refugees are rapists, they’re stating a simple fact.
“I don’t want people to be offended but if people can’t read and they can’t understand it, there’s nothing I can do about that.”