February: Public outcry as a month of teenage stabbings rages across Birmingham
Birmingham has been rocked by a wave of brutal knife crimes during the month of February that have left three teenagers dead and several people in hospital with serious injuries.
The city is in shock as casualties continue to increase, with seemingly random knife attacks taking place within days of each other, and everywhere from a college campus and near a gym to a charity shop and outside a university.
While knife crime has been unusually high in the city these past few weeks, affecting a number of victims including three this week already, there has been a disturbing pattern of attacks targeting teenagers. Here’s a summary of the tragic incidents so far:
Monday 4th February
20-year-old victim Alisha Malik was reportedly woken by an intruder at her home in Barrows Road in Sparkbrook. She disturbed a burglar who broke into her house through the kitchen. The man attacked and injured her with a knife. Alisha described the savagery of the attack:
“I was slashed in the leg which resulted in leaving me with a 12 inch long wound on my thigh.”
Wednesday 13th February
16-year-old Mohammed Sidali, who lived in Bordesley Green, was stabbed outside Joseph Chamberlain College in Highgate and later died from the knife wound.
Sidali’s family described him as an “honourable young man who strived to do his best.”
“He was a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew and an amazing friend. He had many ambitions and goals which he desired to achieve.
“I hope this is a lesson for young people who don’t understand the consequences of knife crime.”
Wednesday 20th February
16-year-old Abdullah Muhammad was found critically injured in Herbert Road, Small Heath at around 8pm and, despite the best efforts of medics, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said:
“We’ll be leaving no stone unturned to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
“You’ll see a very robust policing response that‘s sensitive to the fears and concerns of our local communities.
“Our thoughts remain with Abdullah’s family, friends and the local community in Small Heath.
“Help us to solve this very tragic crime but also work with us to protect our young people.”
Monday 25th February
17-year-old Hazrat Umar was found seriously injured in Norwood Road, Bordesley Green. However, despite the arrival of paramedics nothing could be done to save him and he was pronounced dead at the scene. West Midlands Police arrested another teenager on suspicion or murder.
Tuesday 26th February
A 16-year-old boy was stabbed inside the British Heart Foundation charity shop, which is situated directly opposite the County Court in Bull Street, at around 5:30pm during the evening rush hour.
Members of the public passing by after police cordoned off the area reported blood visibly smeared across the floor of the shop.
Wednesday 27th February
A 29-year-old man was stabbed near Aston University around 2:30pm. Police are currently investigating this attack but it is not – at time of writing – known if the man was a student at the university.
A passer-by who attempted to give the victim first aid described him as a ‘black man in his 20s’.
The attacks have shocked Birmingham residents, some claiming they are living “in a state of fear” after this recent almost daily occurrence of knife crime.
In public and on social media, people are voicing their anger and concern at the rise in the number of young people involved in knife crime, while community leaders have called for calm.
Brummie James John said:
“Stabbed and killed going gym. Stabbed and killed going mosque. Stabbed and killed in college. Stabbed in city centre. Stabbed in university. Any place safe?”
Small Heath resident Sez Bee stated:
“Seriously, think a curfew needs to be put in place. We had two schools burgled three times in a row by a group of 15-year-olds, and that at 3am!
“Were the parents not worried about their child not being at home at this hour? Parents need to step up and control their children. I also think that schools are neglecting the children ever since Academies have come into place. Academies are just businesses now, there isn’t any compassion.
“All they want are the grades, they are churning the children in and out without emotional and moral support. These kids and their generation have been failed by the system and their parents. Can the parents not see their children mixing with the wrong crowd? Don’t they question where the money is coming from? The flash cars, designer clothes? They just turn a blind eye and reap the rewards no matter where it’s coming from.
“Parents play a huge role in this. They need to stop check what their children are doing and keep an eye of their whereabouts. You can’t blame the council and police for everything. It’s the parents job to try and keep tabs on their children.”
Another city resident, Aftab Hussain, said:
“The parents and community needs to wake up and tackle this gang culture amongst youths which is a very serious issue.”
Resident Sarah Khan took to social media, writing:
“Why do I always see kids hanging outside with friends when they should be at home sleeping? Parents need to look out for their children and need to know who are they with and what kind of friends they have.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said:
“In the last few days and weeks we have all been horrified by the tragic murders of young people on our streets. It is an awful situation and I send my sympathy to the families and friends of everyone affected. This situation is totally unacceptable and unprecedented in its seriousness. It must be tackled.
“I firmly believe an issue of this importance transcends the political divide and that everyone will want to play their part in working to protect our residents and young people in particular.
“That is why I have made an open offer to the Police and Crime Commissioner to work with him and others with the stated aim of stepping up our efforts to tackle knife crime in the West Midlands.
“Whilst responsibility for law enforcement lies with the PCC and West Midlands Police, on an issue of this seriousness it is incumbent on everyone who can play a part in tackling it to do so. For example, we must make sure that young people have the opportunities to succeed in life and avoid being drawn into violence and other criminal activities.
“We must make it clear that we do not want to be a society where people feel it is acceptable to carry knives. And our response must be centred around those communities that bear the brunt of violent crime.
“I hope our whole region will unite together to tackle this appalling and unacceptable situation.”
Chief Constable Dave Thompson has vowed to implement extensive stop and search powers for the foreseeable future, as police step up their efforts to tackle the rising surge of knife crime.
He also pledged to continue extra patrols with additional officers in areas of Birmingham offering communities visible reassurance after the murders of three teenagers within days of each other.
He said: “Immediate and intensive action is needed to prevent this current crisis from continuing. My officers have been given extensive powers to search people without the need to suspect they are carrying weapons.
“I recognise this will upset some innocent young people, but I fear the carriage of weapons in the current environment is growing, often through fear, and we can take no chances.
“For our young people, their families and communities we need to stop this emergency quickly. Without specific areas or people to target that means blunt action to prevent violence. That is what we will do.
“Violence builds into the summer months and we will need to apply intensive pressure for a sustained period. We will be courteous but firm.”
Last month, police officers in the city were given metal-detecting “knife wands” in an attempt to tackle knife crime, after it was revealed West Midlands had recorded the highest number of knife offences outside London.Figures showed there were 65 per 100,000 of the population.
Eighty officers were equipped with the scanners to search people suspected of carrying weapons.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Over the past two weeks we have seen the tragic loss of young lives on the streets of Birmingham.
“The Chief Constable is rightly taking action to get on top of the situation, including further Section 60 stop and searches and an uplift in the police presence in areas blighted by violence.
“We need the support of local communities to stop this violence. It is not a job the police can do alone and they can’t simply arrest their way out of this problem.”
Anyone who has any information relating to any of the crimes mentioned above are requested to contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am to midnight, call 101 anytime or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.