A West Midlands police boss has been criticised by MPs for saying a surge in violence after lockdown had been “almost inevitable” following a fatal knife attack in Birmingham at the weekend.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said he found Labour West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson’s comment that “it was almost inevitable that we would see a growth in violence” following the release of lockdown restrictions “inexplicable”.
But shadow justice minister and Birmingham MP Jess Phillips accused the Tory MPs of grossly misrepresenting Mr Jamieson.
It comes after a 23-year-old was killed and seven other people were injured in attacks at four locations in Birmingham over a period of 90 minutes in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
At a press conference on Sunday, Mr Jamieson said: “I have been saying for some time, in the context of Covid-19, that a lot of the pent-up feelings that people have, and not being able to get out, and combine that with people who are now unsure about their future and about their jobs, it was almost inevitable that we would see a growth in violence.”
Responding to Tory MP Marco Longhi (Dudley North), who drew attention to the West Midlands police commissioner’s remarks in the Commons, Mr Malthouse said: “I find the remarks of the police and crime commissioner inexplicable.
“We are in a sorry place if we ever accept that the primary responsibility of a crime does not lie with the criminal.”
But disagreeing with the minister, Ms Phillips said: “I’d like to thank both front benches for their kind words about our city, I’d like to express my deep thanks to the people of Birmingham, the police force, to the ambulance service.
“To David Jamieson who has been misrepresented here today, quite grossly, and to Dave Thompson from West Midlands police force who worked tirelessly and will continue to work tirelessly, as they always do, to keep people in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands safe.
“The minister said today that he would do anything, that Birmingham would have the resources that they needed to ensure that this crime can be detected, that victims will be looked after.
“And what I have to ask him is will he guarantee that the uplift in police force numbers – which of course in the West Midlands… in Birmingham we’ve had a loss of 2,000 officers since 2010 and only an uplift of 1,200 – will he guarantee that the uplift will be fully-funded for the next two years?”
Mr Malthouse replied: “It is certainly the case that this year’s uplift of police officers in the West Midlands, which I think is 366, is fully-funded.
“We have yet to decide the allocation of police officers across the country, but our commitment to 20,000 extra police officers over the next three years is unshakeable.”
David Jamieson was born and raised in the West Midlands and has been the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner since 2014. Between 1992 and 2005 he served as a Member of Parliament.
During that time he spent four years as a government whip and a further four years as a Transport Minister within Tony Blair’s government.
He is a Governor at Kingshurst Primary School in North Solihull near to where he currently lives.
By Sophie Morris, George Ryan, PA Political Reporters and Solihull Observer
Pic source: West Midlands Police