Birmingham stabbings: Police chief defends force after criticism

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A police forensics officer taking photographs in Irving Street

image copyrightPA Media

image captionA total of eight people were injured after the attacks in and around the city’s Gay Village

A chief constable has defended the police after criticism of their response to stabbings in Birmingham that left a man dead and seven injured.

Dave Thompson, of West Midlands Police, said CCTV footage of a suspect wanted in connection with the 6 September stabbings was issued about 90 minutes after being obtained.

Jacob Billington, 23, died and one person is critically ill.

But Mr Thompson said a “prompt” police response “saved lives”.

He told an online meeting that images were secured via private CCTV cameras and within 90 minutes had been shared publicly by the force.

He said an arrest was made 26 hours after the attack and concluded he was “proud” of his staff.

image captionDave Thompson responded to criticism of the force at a board meeting

Speaking to the Strategic Police and Crime Board, Mr Thompson defended the force against criticism that “the suspect was allowed to wander around the city centre”.

An inquest has heard suspect Zephaniah McLeod allegedly

left the city centre after the first two knife attacks before returning to the area about an hour later.

Another area of criticism was the “police response was not fast enough,” Mr Thompson said.

“There was a considerable number of officers deployed” but the numbers were “so extensive that many will have not been able to record their attendance on the radio.”

“I believe the prompt police and an equally swift ambulance response will be shown to have saved lives,” he said.

Mr McLeod is charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

The 27-year-old has previously appeared in court in connection with the stabbings and a trial date has been scheduled for February 2021.

image copyrightPolice handout
image captionJacob Billington was out with friends when he was stabbed in Birmingham

The West Midlands’ Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson told the meeting: “Some of that criticism was seriously uninformed and very unhelpful from people that actually should know better.

“I hope some of those people who made that criticism – and some of them were people who are elected to Parliament – should actually reflect on what they said and revise how they react in future.”

After the stabbings the Labour MP for Perry Barr, Khalid Mahood, said both the public and police had been “put at further risk” and called for answers about the gap between the first and last attacks.

And the Labour MP for Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, told BBC Radio WM she also had concerns about the police response.

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