Many people read – and are talking about – yesterday’s Birmingham Mail article about gangs and violence in our corner of the city.
The article – quoting an anonymous ‘community source’ – depicts South West Birmingham as a terrifying, gang-infested area.
There are known issues with gangs around the area and police are taking steps to deal with those involved – arrests have been made. People are concerned, but, do we recognise this as our area?
The issue of gangs was raised and discussed at the last Longbridge police tasking and neighbourhood watch meeting, for example, resulting in local politicians meeting with representatives from West Midlands Police to raise community concerns on this and other issues.
The police are also working hard, alongside local partners, politicians, educators and community groups, to gain information and to find creative ways of combating and preventing further issues.
Our local communities are already concerned about these issues and do want to know that the police are actively seeking to address them – so, has this newspaper article inspired more fear in those who were already nervous?
West Midlands Police need members of the public to come forward with information to help them combat these issues in our communities.
If you have any information on gangs, violence or other crimes, please inform the police.
Alternatively, you can pass on information completely anonymously via Crimestoppers: call 0800 555111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org
We asked some of our local politicians and stakeholders to respond to yesterday’s article in the Birmingham Mail about gangs currently active in our corner of the city.
Here are some of their responses:
Superintendent Mat Shaer • Birmingham West • West Midlands Police
We’ve got officers and staff working around the clock to close in on those gangs who bring fear to our communities. Our efforts continue to disrupt those networks, take their weapons away and ultimately get them punished for the criminal activities they think they can carry out with impunity.
For example on Friday, 19-year-old Marcel Mullings-Boyd, of Out Wood Drive, Northfield, is due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to possessing a handgun and cannabis production.
In other separate matters, a number of youths remain on bail after allegedly taking part in a video distributed on a video-sharing site. The footage – as well as seemingly glorifying gang violence – also refers to specific incidents of violence and contains threats to rival gangs.
There is no let-up in our approach to tackle violent crime if we are to prevent serious injuries and if we are to reassure the people of Birmingham.
The on-going deterrent work continues together with our partner agencies, charities and the community, which is a crucial part of our long-term plan to tackle violent crime.
The public are our eyes and ears and I would appeal directly to the communities of Birmingham – please, contact us with any information you have about those committing violent crime and gang activity in our city.”
Richard Burden MP • Labour • Northfield Constituency
The emergence of these street gangs in South Birmingham is certainly cause for serious concern. I have been in close touch with the Police about it for some time now. I can reassure people that a dedicated Police operation is in place with targeted actions ongoing to disrupt the activities of those involved.
A number of arrests have already been made. Just as important is the cooperation taking place between schools and the Police to divert young people at risk of becoming involved in gangs away from criminal activities that offer them no future.
It in no way undermines the seriousness of this issue, however, to emphasise that only a small minority of young people get involved in these gangs and that it would be entirely wrong to allow young people in and around Northfield to be stigmatised because of the actions of the few.
Let us remember too that these gangs are not what makes Northfield tick. There is so much that is positive about people who live around here – young and not so young. Nurturing, celebrating and taking pride in all that is good about our community is as important to safeguarding the future as is cracking down on criminal gangs.
Rev Dave Tubby • Chair: Northfield Stakeholders Group • Minister: Northfield Baptist Church
I am immensely proud to be part of this community. This is a vibrant place full of people who want to make a positive difference.
Every single day, I see people seeking to work together, bringing new ideas and initiatives to Northfield. There are many, many incredibly talented and gifted people here and there is a real sense of community.
What the Birmingham Mail has identified as ‘communities living in fear’ I do not recognise at all. This is a place where the community works together incredibly well.
Northfield Stakeholders’ Group is a great example of that. Over 40 local charities, businesses and community organisations with cross-party political support and regular input from the police is working hard to support the area.
The desire to work together here is strong and it is a great privilege to be part of community life here.
Cllr John Lines • Bartley Green • Conservative
In recent times, a great deal of negative reports and publicity has been presented – mainly by one source – regarding law & order issues in my ward.
This adverse publicity distorts the true situation. This headline grabbing is painting my ward as a crime hot spot, which it is not!
Bartley Green is one of our safest areas in the city. From the successful lobbying by Cllr Bruce Lines over time, the police numbers have been increased, in recent times and the commitment by police officers further our confidence[..]
Cllr Peter Douglas Osborn • Weoley • Conservative • Member of the Police and Crime Commissioner Panel
Though we all wish to support our area and deny the general media insults – it is after all a very small minority – we must nevertheless inform the authorities about any criminal behaviour.
This will reduce a future attack on our area’s reputation, but more importantly will impress [upon] the general public that we – as Brummies of the South West – have zero tolerance for anti social types, and no sympathy for them or their apologists.
We shall never allow them the space to expand here!