Six boys between the ages of 14 and 17 have been arrested for the attack on Liverpool trainee policeman James Parkes.

Parkes, 22, who is gay, was out with friends and his partner in Liverpool’s gay village on Sunday evening.

The 13-strong gang had reportedly been shouting homophobic abuse at them before Parkes was was attacked at around 10pm.

He is in hospital with multiple fractures to his skull and cheekbone and his condition has been described as serious but stable.

Four boys have been released on bail, while another two, both aged 15, were detained yesterday evening.

Police say they are treating the attack as a homophobic crime.

DCI Tim Keelan said: “I would appeal to anyone who may have information which could help us to catch those responsible for this despicable crime to come forward. Intensive inquires are taking place and we are currently examining CCTV footage from around the time of the incident to identify those responsible.

“We are treating the assault as a homophobic hate crime and this incident shows there are still some people who have not learnt that crimes of this type are completely unacceptable. People who commit hate crimes can expect the full attention of the police and we will not rest until the offenders are brought to justice. The offenders will learn their lesson the hard way.”

He added that patrols have been stepped up in the Stanley Street area, where the attack took place.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or has any information which could help the police with their inquiries, should contact detectives at St Anne Street police station on 0151 777 4064, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.