West Midlands police boss slammed for 'trying to excuse alleged killer'
A top police chief has been accused of "trying to excuse" an alleged killer after saying a rise in violence due to the coronavirus pandemic was "almost inevitable".
David Jamieson has been slammed over his response to a night of violence in Birmingham, where one man was killed and seven other people were seriously injured during a knife rampage.
The Labour Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the West Midlands suggested that an increase in violent crime was unavoidable due to "pent up feelings" that people had built up during the lockdown.
He said that combined with uncertainty over their futures and jobs a spike in violence was "almost inevitable", warning that it would get worse unless "underlying problems" were addressed.
Tories in the West Midlands have accused the PCC of making excuses for violent criminals.
Suzanne Webb, the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, said: "This is a very depressing comment from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
"We have seen knife crime first hand in Stourbridge and it's beyond depressing that the PCC should even consider excuses for why someone would carry a knife."
Jay Singh-Sohal, the Tory candidate for West Midlands PCC, said: "This is an appalling comment from someone who should know better. There is no justification for such a violent crime and Mr Jamieson should show some decency and now apologise for trying to excuse an alleged killer.
"This is a clear 'dog whistle' attempt to deflect from Labour's record overseeing policing. A major incident is not the time for cheap politics, I support the police in their investigation, but we are stuck with a Labour Police Commissioner who cannot but help himself."
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Police have this morning arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of murder. The motive for the attacks remains unclear, with police suggesting they may have been random.
During the lockdown violent crime plummeted but Mr Jamieson repeatedly warned it was rise once restrictions were lifted.
In April he predicted a summer crimewave led by alcohol-fuelled young men who had lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The PCC said there would be an examination of police performance following the stabbings, admitting that it seemed extraordinary seemed that an attacker could go on a rampage for two hours in a major city without police intervention.
A spokesperson for the PCC said: "No one is making any excuses for anyone carrying a knife. The PCC was very clear that this case is not linked to growing tensions driven by the economic woes resulting from Covid. It is scurrilous to suggest otherwise.
"What is clear though is that violence overall is on the rise again and that requires us all to work together, with government support to tackle the issues we face."