Birmingham city centre
Police have increased patrols in Birmingham city centre following a spate of violent attacks.
There have been several serious disorders in the city’s nightlife centre where three people have died and others subjected to serious assaults.
Matthew Carroll was out with his family last month on Saturday evening, August 29, when he was attacked just off Broad Street at around 1.30am. Mr Carroll died from his injuries and a post-mortem examination showed that the provisional cause of death was a blunt force head injury.
Matthew Mahony, aged 33, of Stone Road, Birmingham, has been charged with manslaughter following the attack.
A man has also been charged with murder after 25-year-old Jason Bentley-Morrison died after he was stabbed in Digbeth on August 22, and Amarpal Atkar died in hospital after he was assaulted in Stephenson Street, just outside Grand Central and Birmingham New Street station on Saturday, July 31.
Two men were also stabbed in the early hours of Saturday morning, September 11, at Bambu nightclub in Wrottesley Street. They were both taken to hospital and later discharged.
Meanwhile three men were arrested in connection with assault after a couple were attacked with bottles and subjected to homophobic abuse outside Missing Bar in the city’s gay village in August.
‘The violence we’ve seen is unacceptable’
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, responsible for policing in Birmingham, said: “We’ve seen an increase in people returning to our nightlife centres, which is great, and I can completely understand that people are excited to get out and let their hair down after the various lockdowns and restrictions.
“However, the violence we’ve seen is simply unacceptable, it often starts as aggressive behaviour fuelled by excessive drinking and has had some devastating consequences.
“We’re stepping up our policing presence, and we continue to work with security staff in licenced premises, and our wider partners.”
Concern over homophobic attacks
Lawrence Barton, the chairman of Southside District and owner of The Nightingale Club in the city’s gay village, has said he is also concerned following violent homophobic attacks in Birmingham city centre.
A couple in their 30s were attacked outside Missing Bar in August when homophobic abuse was shouted at them before they were assaulted with bottles.
“The issue that we’ve got in our district at the moment is that we haven’t had enough of a police presence,” said Lawrence.
“We have seen a rise in violent attacks after a couple were attacked with bottles and just a few weeks ago one of our own drag queens was assaulted.
“More often than not many verbal homophobic attacks on people also just go unreported.
“As a BID we work with our local partners and in terms of LGBT I can’t speak highly enough of West Midlands police who are always supportive, but staff wise it’s a resource issue.”
Lawrence believes the recent attacks reflects a wider societal problem.
“I think we’ve seen a shift of behaviours where there has been an increasing pattern across the UK and it concerns me when things become more violent and you get to the point where someone is brutally attacked.
“There should be zero tolerance for violence towards another human being and when it’s associated with a person’s sexuality we really have to re-examine why it’s happening in our society to understand why it’s taking place.”
Police step up patrols
A spokesman for West Midlands police said: “Our officers were out all weekend (September 4 and 5) , patrolling areas including the Arcadian, Broad Street, around Coldmore Row and Digbeth.
“We engaged early with door staff, venue managers and street wardens to gather information about planned events and get ideas about bookings and capacities.
“We carried out a joint partnership street briefing on Saturday with street wardens, paramedics, venue management and heads of security. We talked through our deployment of officers, patrol plans and our joined up communications so we were all aware of what was going on in a timely way.
“We closely liaised with venues throughout the evenings and no licensing breaches were identified and we received lots of positive comments from door staff and people out enjoying the city, and we carried out walkthroughs of a number of licensed premises, a few people were removed to ensure their behaviour didn’t escalate into any violent outbreaks and a just handful of arrests were made.”
‘Some disorders due to large numbers in city centre’
Pete Willis, the senior warden for Westside BID, believes some of the recent violence in the city centre is also a result of large numbers of people going out to clubs and pubs post-lockdown who haven’t been out before.
“Unfortunately, we have seen some serious incidents in the city centre recently but also much of it has been low level disorder,” Mr Willis said.
“And in terms of that obviously with the pandemic people couldn’t go out so we’ve now had enormous numbers coming into the city centre.
“Many people turned 18 in lockdown as well as freshers who couldn’t go out at that time either - so across the UK it’s almost like two million people have just had their 18th birthday and gone out at the same time but obviously with no previous experience of what the night time economy is or what to expect in a nightclub, and I think that’s been the main reason for some of the disorders we’ve had because large numbers of people haven’t really been out before.
“People are going out and staying out for a little longer than intended and once they’re out -they’ve come out of a pub or a club and the weather is still fine – it’s a warm evening and there’s no rush to go home.”
“As a BID we have a weekly meeting with the police to discuss how the weekend went and how we plan to operate for the weekend coming and we’re in constant communication with all of the relevant authorities to tweak things to make people as safe as possible.”