Community partners in Longbridge ward have vowed to address community safety concerns following a series of assaults by a large group in Frankley and Longbridge last Friday night (3rd February).
And a local Inspector says police are “not aware of any problems” after a Rednal headteacher advises pupils to boycott a local youth centre until further notice.
Police were first called when a Frankley shopkeeper was hit with a hammer after challenging a large group of around 20 young people in the Premier supermarket in Holly Hill Road just before 9pm. He was taken to hospital with a head injury but was later discharged.
Shortly afterwards, a cyclist was hit in the arm with a hammer as he passed the group close to McDonald’s in Bristol Road South, Longbridge.
A smaller group of teens was then set upon by the group, resulting in one lad receiving a superficial stab wound to his lower back. A mobile phone was also stolen.
Officers managed to arrest five of the group, aged 16 and 17, after a foot chase in the area of Longbridge Station. Enquiries are still underway into the incidents.
Community safety concerns
Since Friday, Cllr Andy Cartwright (Labour, Longbridge) has said that he will arrange to meet lead agencies “to ensure the safety of our young people and community.”
Cllr Brett O’Reilly (Labour, Northfield) said: “The acts of violence in the Longbridge area are completely unacceptable and, whilst I am relieved to hear that nobody has been seriously injured, I would hope that the perpetrators are dealt with to the full extent of the law.”
With the injured youngster being a pupil of Colmers School in Rednal, headteacher Barry Doherty spoke to pupils and sent a letter to parents and carers, advising that youngsters aren’t out alone after dark and stay in groups if they are out.
‘Unresolved concerns’ re youth centre
Although he does not suggest that any incidents on Friday night were linked to the youth centre in Longbridge, Mr Doherty’s letter also advised parents to: “prevent […] children from attending the youth club at The Factory [Young People’s Centre, Longbridge] until further notice” citing “unresolved concerns regarding this venue and whether or not it presents a risk to local children from others who would seek to intimidate or hurt others.” Read the full letter
B31 Voices has since received a number of enquiries from concerned parents, unsure whether they should allow their children to attend the Birmingham City Council run centre or not.
‘No complaint’ re youth centre
Cllr O’Reilly, who is the Cabinet Member responsible for Birmingham’s Youth Services, confirmed that no complaint had been made to the council by Mr Doherty about the facilities at The Factory: “Whilst I appreciate that the Head Teacher of Colmers School has a duty of care to his pupils, no complaint or enquiry regarding The Factory has been made by Mr Doherty. Birmingham City Council will be undertaking a full investigation, and I would urge Mr Doherty to engage fully with this process.”
Chief Inspector Mandy Platt, from Birmingham West Neighbourhood Policing Unit confirmed that West Midlands Police had not received reports of any particular concerns regarding The Factory. She said: “We are happy that the venue does not form part of our investigation at this stage and we are not aware of any problems reported to us concerning the club. If anyone has any issues they should speak to our local neighbourhood team.”
Moving forward, working together
Cllr Ian Cruise (Independent, Longbridge) said: “As a Corporate Parent, I would like to commend Mr Doherty for his commitment to safeguarding his pupils in light of this attack but would urge him to work with the staff at The Factory in eradicating any friction or tensions between the young people attending a flagship youth centre, which is involved in an amazing amount of great work. I will be in contact with Mr Doherty, our Neighbourhood Policing Team, my colleagues in both Longbridge & Northfield Wards and the staff at The Factory to work collaboratively in reducing violent incidents and foster a culture of respect between young people in the locality – no matter which school or college they attend.”
Chief Inspector Platt said: “Enquiries into the events on Friday night are continuing and I would like to reassure the local community that we are treating the events on Friday as an isolated incident. We have a number of extra local patrols by neighbourhood officers in place.”
Anyone with any information which may help officers investigating Friday night’s events is asked to call West Midlands Police on 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If you have any concerns regarding community facilities or community safety, contact one of your local councillors in Longbridge ward: Cllr Andy Cartwright, Cllr Ian Cruise, Cllr Carole Griffiths or Northfield ward: Cllr Brett O’Reilly, Cllr Debbie Clancy, Cllr Randal Brew