A top police chief for Oxford has personally apologised for the way his officers treated a Sikh man after his turban was torn from his head during a racial attack.

Rattandeep Singh Ahluwalia was assaulted by two racist thugs in Queen Street in the city centre while up to 40 onlookers stood by and did nothing.

One man ripped the 26-year-old's turban from his head and as Mr Ahluwalia struggled to defend himself, another man waved his fists in his face and shouted racist abuse.

The former student criticised the police for not understanding the significance of what happened to him on May 28.

When the officers arrived, he was standing against the wall petrified to be seen in public with his hair exposed, but was forced to run over the road to meet them.

No arrests have been made, but the police have identified an offender who the Operation Backlash team is trying to trace.

Oxford police commander Supt Jim Trotman yesterday admitted: "On this occasion the service we provided fell short of what I expect and could have been better.

"Although police were on the scene very quickly, the officers could have done more to treat the victim in a caring manner."

An internal inquiry into the lapses in the initial response is now under way.

But Mr Ahluwalia said an apology was not enough.

He said: "Saying sorry to me won't any difference without making big changes to the way they train officers.

"I want the police officers first on the scene to understand the sensitivity of the issue."

Gurdip Singh Saini, vice-chairman of the Asian Cultural Centre in East Oxford, said the apology was a positive step.

He said: "At least the police realise they have got to give us some assurance it won't happen again."

Supt Trotman said the attack raised questions about the quality of service his officers provided to victims of racist crime.

He plans to meet members of the Sikh community to discuss their concerns.

He said: "I want to reassure all victims of crime that they should come forward with confidence knowing that they will receive a proper service from their local police.

"Where this does on occasion fall short of what I expect, then I want to know so we can ensure that it does not happen again."

Community and diversity police officer Chris Griffin said: "This particular incident is an example we need to learn from.

"We can take this on board and use it as part of a training model in the future."

Pc Griffin said racial attacks were always taken very seriously, adding: "We can't guarantee it won't happen again but the assurance comes with the fact it will be thoroughly investigated and we will make every effort to catch offenders."