Following the ‘major incident’ stabbings in Birmingham’s city centre and Brum’s gay village in the early hours of Sunday morning, there are fresh calls for Birmingham City Council to stop decommissioning CCTV cameras around the city centre, and to ensure that any faulty ones are back up and running in a timely manner.
Tragically, 23-year-old Jacob Billington died from the stabbing on Sunday, while two other victims remain in a serious condition.
Erdington’s Conservative councillor, Gareth Moore, feels that Birmingham City Council should and must do more. He said: “CCTV is a powerful tool in terms of preventing, detecting and investigating crime, and more CCTV around Hurst Street is needed.
“However, rather than investing and upgrading its CCTV network, the council has chosen to decommission instead - putting the safety of Birmingham residents at risk.”
As exclusively exposed by Midlands Zone last month, a CCTV camera that might have provided vital evidence for West Midlands Police in relation to a horrifying LGBTQ hate-crime attack - by a gang of Asian youths on a group of people including local drag artist Miss Penny - was found to be pointing skywards rather than down onto the street, and is clearly faulty.
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, confirmed to Midlands Zone that the camera will be investigated as a matter of urgency. He said: “Issues related to the functionality of the CCTV camera in the area of this incident are being investigated as a matter of urgency to ensure it gives the most effective coverage possible.”
However, a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said today: “Testing on the camera unit is ongoing, and we continue to make every effort to resolve as a priority the intermittent issues that are affecting it.”
Meanwhile, following this weekend’s stabbings, Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Perry Barr and a shadow minister, commented: “We’ve got to look at the fact he (the attacker) had two hours to run around the city centre, which has a huge anmount of CCTV cameras in place.”
He continued: “Where was the monitoring? Both the public and the police were put at further risk. There is a person dead. How was this man able to go on a two-hour spate?
“Potentially, had the alarm been set up early enough, the individual who is now deceased could have been saved.”
Julia Robinson, Manager of Southside BID, which includes Birmingham’s Gay Village, said: “Security is paramount in our busy and vibrant district, particularly for our nighttime economy. We work in partnership with Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police to ensure that our visitors and residents are as safe as possible. We have previously been requested to pay for security cameras over the lifetime of the BID, but we strongly believe that the council should maintain this vital service, which was here prior to the BID’s inception and forms part of the baseline service that our members voted for. We call on the council to urgently prioritise CCTV in the Gay Village.”
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police Commissioner David Jamieson has confirmed that an investigation will take place into how the police responsed to the major incident at the weekend and what can be learnt from it.
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