Rise in violence 'almost inevitable' due to pandemic, says crime chief

A rise in violent crime is linked to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a crime chief.

He was speaking after attacks left one dead and seven injured in Birmingham.

In unconnected incidents five were injured and five arrested in London, and police were inundated with calls in Devon and Cornwall.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said a rise in violence was “almost inevitable” due to the pandemic.

He told reporters: “I have been saying for some time, in the context of Covid-19, that a lot of the pent-up feelings of 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.

“I’m not saying that this is directly related to that, but nevertheless we are seeing now a growth of violence among younger people, particularly younger males, we’re seeing that growing across the region.

“My fear is that if we don’t address that and some of the underlying problems with some urgency then we could see that grow.

“But, notwithstanding that, Birmingham is a good place, it’s a good place to be, it’s a safe city and it is regrettable that this awful incident happened last night.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said a large number of resources were sent to Birmingham city centre overnight after the stabbing incidents.

WMAS said 14 ambulances were dispatched, along with 11 paramedic officers, a hazardous area response team, four critical care teams with doctors and critical care paramedics.

A team of St John Ambulance volunteers at the SafeSpace project at the Arcadian were also involved in treating casualties and conveyed one of the patients, WMAS added.

A total of seven patients were treated by ambulance staff – five of which were taken to the major trauma centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Three of the five taken to the major trauma centre had critical injuries and one man was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, WMAS said.

The ambulance service said an eighth patient with minor injuries did not receive ambulance treatment.

Speaking after the stabbing incidents in Birmingham, assistant chief ambulance officer Nathan Hudson said: “This was clearly a very serious situation with a large number of patients, some with very serious injuries.

“My thoughts are with the families of those hurt, particularly of the man who tragically lost his life.

“I must pay tribute to the ambulance staff who worked so hard at the scene and en-route to hospital to help each of the patients hurt.

“We train for incidents like this on a regular basis which meant that we were able to get a large number of ambulance resources into the scene very rapidly so that patients got the care they needed as quickly as possible.”

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham from West Midlands Police has said a series of stabbings in Birmingham overnight are linked and police are searching for one suspect.

He told reporters officers were called to reports of a stabbing in Constitution Hill, north of the city centre, and the suspect worked north-to-south.

He said: “We are still in the early stages of that inquiry but I can say that we are treating all four of those incidents as a linked series.

“We are searching for one suspect and inquiries to identify and then trace that suspect are ongoing.”

Two people who were critically injured are still being worked upon as a result of the injuries they received as part of that attack.

He added there was “absolutely no suggestion” that guns were involved in the incident.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said there was “absolutely no suggestion at all” the series of stabbings was related to terrorism.

Mr Graham added the stabbings appeared to be a random attack and there was no evidence the incident was motivated by hate towards any particular group nor gang-related.

“Clearly those of you who know Birmingham city centre know that Hurst Street is part of the gay community’s night-time economy but there’s absolutely no suggestion at this point that this was in any way, shape or form motivated by hate.”

Asked whether the incident was gang related, he said: “At this stage we can’t find a particular motive but it does appear to be random in terms of the selection of the people who were attacked.”

He also said there was no evidence to show it was related to “people squabbling over tables” in the city centre.

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