A BLACK woman has vowed never to set foot in Hereford "by choice" again after she and her friends were subjected to vile racist abuse during a night out in the city centre.

Annett Thaxter, from Birmingham, told the Hereford Times that some of her party even endured stares and slurs from customers at a Chinese restaurant.

The taunts they took in the street were "unlike anything I've had in my life" said Miss Thaxter. "I won't be coming to Hereford by choice again."

Police are investigating the abuse and using CCTV footage to track down suspects.

Neville Meredith, the county's race equality officer, said the "confidence" shown by the abusers in Hereford was worrying.

"It seems there was no-one willing to challenge them or make a stand," said Mr Meredith.

The police investigation is centred on two incidents in Widemarsh Street between 10.45pm and 11.30pm on Friday, August 5.

In the first, a number of youths in four cars racially taunted the group while driving by. The second saw the group racially abused by three men in their mid-40s to early 50s.

In Leominster, police are scanning CCTV and have called in a forensics team to help hunt whoever is spraying racist graffiti around the town.

John Thomas, county councillor for the Leominster South ward, reported the latest "highly offensive" slogans left on walls along the walkway between South Street and Sydonia. Another offensive slogan was sprayed on a wall near the Kwiksave store.

Coun Thomas has also reported shops with posters banning Eastern Europeans. By Monday, most had been taken down.

Insp Bob Barnett, Leominster area commander, said officers would be advising stores that such posters left them liable to prosecution.

"We were told that the posters were put up because of shoplifting. We have arrested some seasonal workers for theft - but not from shops where the posters went up," he said.