Yobs filmed a brutal attack on a 12-year-old girl in Wigan town centre, sparking fears a violent social media trend may be making an unwelcome comeback.
Police were called to Wigan’s Primark store after a gang of youths set upon the youngster outside then spilled into the store.
What an awful time for kids to be growing up. How much it’s changed since I was a kidEmma Trace
Members of the group reportedly filmed the assault leading to concerns that the obnoxious practice of “happy slapping” has been revived.
The incident took place at around 4pm last Saturday when Standishgate was busy with shoppers.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “Shortly after 3.55pm on Saturday, March 18, police received reports of an assault of a 12-year-old girl in Primark on Standishgate, Wigan, following an altercation with a large group of youths outside the store.”
According to officers, no one was injured in the incident.
A Primark spokesman said: “Primark takes the safety and security of our customers very seriously. We confirm that a minor altercation took place at our Wigan store on Saturday, March 18.
“Our store security followed the usual protocol and the situation was quickly defused.”
The “happy slap” trend rose to prominence in the early 2000s and saw people assault others and film it on their mobile phones or tablets then published to garner online approval.
Following the Primark incident, there were rumours circulating that one or more of the attackers had been seen filming the assault on their phones.
Social media users relayed concerns over the incident. Wigan Pete wrote: “Facebook is making this acceptable and making it a fashion thing. If you report these videos they say it doesn’t violate their community standards.”
Former Shevington High School pupil Emma Trace, said: “What an awful time for kids to be growing up. How much it’s changed since I was a kid, nothing like this. I feel sorry for my own two if it gets any worse.”
In 2008 powers were handed to the courts to pass down harsher sentences to those who filmed their attacks.