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West Midlands police under scrutiny

CRITICISM: West Midlands Police

A SPATE of violent incidents involving shootings and stabbings, some fatal, in the Birmingham area leaves no doubt that the rise in this sort of violence is not limited to London alone.

Recent media reports speak of the violent crime bedlam which has befallen the capital, but our report in this issue shines a light on the UK’s second city which has been rocked by similar circumstances.

Just like London, the statistics emerging from Birmingham are much the same. Last month alone three young black men have been shot or stabbed, while another dozen violent gun or knife incidents have taken place. And it’s part of a 14 per cent increase in crime over the region year on year.

The reasons given by the city’s West Midlands Police (WMP) and Crime Commission are similar to those of London. Reduction in frontline police numbers and central government cuts since the election.

But underlining all of this is the disproportionate number of times when black people come in contact with the police. It is the former who come out worst off leaving a divided opinion on whether the police is adequately serving the black communities there.

One man is now considering taking legal action against the West Midlands Police because of an incident where he was shot in the chest by an officer after he was told to raise his hands in the air.

But there is history with the black community and the WMP. There is still some dissent in some quarters over the not guilty verdict last year against three officers involved in the Kingsley Burrell death in custody case.

There are still no charges yet in the cases involving Darren Cumberbatch and Shane Bryant who died after coming in contact with the police in nearby Coventry and Leicester respectively.

Now groups like the church-based Voice Against Crime (VAC) are taking a positive step towards building improved relationship between the community and the police by encouraging a new approach. They are doing this through workshops and conferences and it is working.

Let’s hope these efforts leads to lasting peace and harmony.

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