Stay out of the West Midlands, PCC warns protesters

Police chiefs have warned anti-lockdown protesters to stay out of the West Midlands after clashes in a city centre last weekend.

PCC David Jamieson says protesters are not welcome in the region during lockdown
PCC David Jamieson says protesters are not welcome in the region during lockdown

Eleven people were arrested and 25 fines issued after around 150 religious protesters, anti-vaxxers and other campaigners descended on Birmingham on Saturday.

Furious Labour West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson has revealed that a large number of the protesters were from outside the area.

He told the region's weekly Covid briefing that 75 officers had been required to deal with the incident, which started outside the council house and saw protesters without masks abusing police.

It came as the PCC revealed the force was now dealing with around 340 calls a day over Covid breaches, the majority of which were regarding house parties and people not wearing masks.

Mr Jamieson said: "It would appear that large numbers of the protesters weren't from Birmingham or the West Midlands at all.

"They were from other parts of the country, who had chose to come to Birmingham to have their protest.

"Not only was there the fear of them spreading the virus around, they were also spreading their nonsense stories in Birmingham.

"The police would usually facilitate protest – that is our right in a democracy.

"But I will just say to people: at the present moment, in the present circumstances, you do not have the right to come to Birmingham or anywhere else in the West Midlands to protest about Covid-19 or any other issue whilst we are in this situation."

He said officers' time "could be better used tracking down crime in our area".

Mr Jamieson said the force would start administering new £800 fines next week for unlawful gatherings over 15 people.

He said that of the 21 "super fines" of £10,000 that had been issued by West Midlands Police so far, "quite a few" had gone to court on appeal as people were trying to expose a loophole in the law if officers were unable to say exactly how many people were involved in the alleged breach.

"We may see some challenges on those grounds," Mr Jamieson said.

"This is another area where we expect the Government to step in and make it much clearer what they expect the officers to do."

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