Monday, 8 August 2011

Violence And Looting on Birmingham's Streets



By Ben Aulakh

The three days of violence and rioting in London spread to the UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham, on Monday night.

Groups of youths roamed the city centre, smashing windows and looting shops at will; McDonalds, Jessops, Austin Reed and the flagship Adidas store on New Street were all targeted.

Police also formed a cordon around the city’s Bullring shopping centre after shoppers were ushered away from the centre by officers.

Rioters smashed windows with chairs, paving slabs and axes, stealing from shops on New Street and at the Mailbox.

The trouble began at on New Street before spreading to other areas of the city centre, and wider areas of Birmingham.

Police were tightly controlling access on some of the arterial routes into the city centre, including the inner-city ring road; a process that officers say was being continually reviewed to ensure that people who need to enter the centre, such as businesses, could still gain access.

In other parts of the inner city a police station on Holyhead Road in Handsworth was set ablaze, Lloyds bank on Soho road was also set alight, and there were reports of burning cars lining Stratford Road.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe of West Midlands Police said, “We want to protect the people of Birmingham by restoring order and returning the city to normality as soon as possible.

“We will not tolerate mindless violence anywhere in the West Midlands and are working hard to ensure that the offenders are identified and caught as soon as possible.”

“An operation is in place with extra officers in Birmingham to restore calm in the city centre, and protect local people and businesses

“We are also working closely with Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Fire Service and West 
Midlands Ambulance service.”

There have also been reports that many bars and pubs in the city centre have been locked down by police, with people being shut in for the night for their own safety.

A Press Release from West Midlands Police stated that ‘around 100 people have so far been arrested for offences including violent disorder and aggravated burglary, with a significant number of these arrested said to be young people.’

Trouble is also rumoured to have erupted outside the Rainbow Casino in Edgbaston, with a stand-off between police and troublemakers.

A man was also said to have been attacked on Hurst Street in the city centre before he was rescued by a passing car.

Tesco Express on the same street was also reported to have been attacked and looted, another Tesco’s on Bromsgrove Street was also rumoured to have been ransacked for more than an hour.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council said, "We are appealing to people within the city to remain calm and allow the police and others to do their job in bringing these incidents under control.

“The City Council will be making every effort possible from first light tomorrow to clear up any damage and bring normality back to the city as soon as possible.”

“To this end we'd stress to retailers, workers and shoppers alike that the city remains very much open for business and would encourage them to come in as normal tomorrow.”

There have been no reports of any major injuries to members of the public, or any members of the emergency services.

However there has been sympathy expressed with the rioters from some quarters.

Matthew Raine, of the organisation Right to Riot said, “I’ve got absolute sympathy with the young people that are out here tonight.

“We have seen 20 per cent of our young people in Birmingham unemployed, we’ve had connection to 
young people services shut down, we’ve seem unemployment services shut down.”

“So there is no education, no youth services and no jobs, that is why I have so much sympathy for young people who have had their futures ripped apart.”

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