'Increase in far-right activity' in West Midlands in response to Black Lives Matter movement

Far-right groups have resurfaced in the West Midlands in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, a police chief has said.

Black Lives Matter protesters in Wolverhampton
Black Lives Matter protesters in Wolverhampton

Police chiefs have reassured people they will continue to monitor far-right groups after seeing a spike in activity.

Force leaders in the West Midlands said the increase was directly in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

But they have said protests and demonstrations in the region have been without incident so far – which they have thanked people for.

BLM rallies have been held across the area including one in Stafford that attracted more than 1,000 people over the weekend.

Assistant chief constable Vanessa Jardine, left

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said the force has seen an increase in activity over the past few weeks.

Ms Jardine, speaking at a Strategic Policing and Crime Board said: "We're seeing that increase in the last number of weeks in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"We have a number of ways how we gain this intelligence – from open source information to other, more covert methods, and we're very alive to it.

BLM protests in the Midlands:

"Our BLM protests and demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful and we would seek for that to continue – but we accept as well we're seeing a rise in direct response to the protests.

"We will continue to monitor the intelligence we get to ensure we have an appropriate response."

Meanwhile the nature of the crimes recorded by West Midlands Police have changed as a result of the lockdown, with more offences involving online and mobile methods.

A report to the board said: "A large proportion of offences have involved coronavirus in some way; specific offences against those from Chinese communities, Pakistani communities and other individuals, with common accusations of 'spreading' the virus.

"There is also significant intelligence around far right groups and anti-policing sentiment which have not yet resulted in offences.

"Wider offences against ‘authority figures’ are likely to increase as frustrations with limitations to daily life continue.

"With the further lifting of restrictions it is likely that these tensions will increase as people come into more contact with each other. "

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