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Commissioner to reach out as police actions divide opinion

CHANGE-MAKERS: Reverend Bryan Scott (left) with West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson at a Birmingham knife bin

THE WEST Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to be the first guest in a landmark series of programmes on Birmingham’s first licensed black radio station.

PCC David Jamieson, plus a guest panel of leading officers, will field questions from a live audience on New Style Radio’s Different Anglez next Friday (September 29, 2017) at the African Caribbean Millennium Centre in the Winson Green area of the city.

This planned appearance comes as the conduct of police personnel across the region has been called into question; also while the force’s involvement in an ongoing weapons amnesty has drawn plaudits.

Jamieson said:

“I am delighted to be taking part in New Style Radio’s upcoming debate on stop and search, and gangs and violence. It is so important that communities are able to ask questions and have their opinions heard. This isn’t a lecture or a seminar. For me, this as much about listening as it is offering my views. I’m really looking forward to 29 September and meeting the people of Winson Green.

HONEST

“I want to have open and honest conversations about all sorts of crime. Stop and search and gangs and violence are just two. The PCC’s office has helped fund the New Style event and is delighted it is going ahead. It should be a good day.”


REACHING OUT: David Jamieson (centre) discussing stop and search at a workshop at Kingsbury School, Birmingham

Gun and knife crime, as well as concern about policing standards both appear to be on the rise across the West Midlands: the force has reported 132 incidents of shots being fired since January.

In recent months, Darren Cumberbatch from Coventry and Birmingham’s Shane Bryant both became ill and died shortly after in circumstances which remain mysterious after coming into contact with officers.
Official reports claim Cumberbatch “became unwell while the police were on the premises.” Bryant was reportedly restrained in a Leicestershire market town after a supermarket robbery, and was taken to hospital, where he died two days later. To date, none of the officers involved have been suspended or publicly reprimanded.

FAILED

Speaking of Jamieson’s upcoming radio appearance, Birmingham-based community activist Desmond Jaddoo said:

“There is a wider issue that need to be addressed: stop and search and gangs do not just involve the Black community. Mr. Jamieson has failed to grasp what his role is, to hold the Chief Constable and West Midlands Police to account. He should have been quick to condemn poor policing and assure the public that swift action will be taken to investigate these incidents.

“There is a reason why West Midlands Police does not reflect the diversity of the area: trust and confidence needs to be built and to do that there needs to be a zero tolerance policy to deal with officers who insult and ill-treat people from black and ethnic minority communities. This will encourage people from these backgrounds to join the police.

"David Jamieson needs to be building community relations. I hope that in this radio appearance, he starts making a commitment to the community. We are still waiting on these incidents to be investigated and the outcome of the Kingsley Burrell trial.”

In other quarters, the force has been commended following a haul of nearly 200 deadly weapons that have been anonymously surrendered to 12 surrender bins across the West Midlands. Commenting on the haul, Jamieson said:

"Every weapon deposited in a knife bin in our region is one fewer on the streets. I'm pleased to say all the knives and guns will now be destroyed. These bins are only successful if the community supports them and I would like to thank everyone who deposited a weapon, or encouraged someone else to do so, for doing the right thing.”

Over 180 knives or sharp objects plus four guns with ammunition have been retrieved from bins situated in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, including those hosted by a number of community leaders including Birmingham ministers Reverend Jonathan Jackson at NTCG The Rock in Hockley and Reverend Bryan Scott from Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church in Handsworth, also Michael Smith, Founder and CEO of action group Word 4 Weapons.

PLEASED

“Word 4 Weapons is pleased to be working with the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commission in their efforts to reduce knife and gun crime in the West Midlands area. Since 2014 we have worked successfully alongside the PCC's office by providing safe and secure knife bins for the collection and disposal of deposited weapons.

"The partnership has resulted in the removal of a significant amount of weapons from the streets, as well as coordinating the delivery of our anti-knife and gun crime workshops to a number of schools in the area. It is our aim to continue educating young people both in the West Midlands and nationally, on the dangers of knife and gun crime. In addition we aim to further promote the roll-out of our knife bins across the UK."

Jamieson is set to appear on the Different Anglez programme between 10am-2pm on Friday September 29 and has additional commitments in schools, community venues and other community radio stations in the region, including Raaj and Ambur FM.

The weekly Different Anglez show is set to feature high profile interviewees each month in a similar format until next spring.

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