Chris Sims gives evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee
WEST Midlands Police chief constable Chris Sims has hit out at claims police failed to protect residents on nights of rioting in Birmingham in which three men were killed.
Giving evidence to a Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Sims denied his officers were ‘watching’ rather than responding to disturbances in areas where shopkeepers were left defending their businesses.
Three men – Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died in the early hours of August 10 after they were struck by a car during riots in the Winson Green area of the city whilst protecting businesses from potential looters.
Five men have been charged with their murder.
Mr Sims reacted to earlier evidence given by MP’s Khalid Mahmood and Shabana Mahmood, and Handsworth resident Amrick Ubhi who said communities felt they had been “forgotten about” and “let down” by police.
Addressing Mr Sims, Home Affairs Select Committee member Keith Vaz said: “Chief Constable, people died in Birmingham, they were individuals who went to protect their own shops because the police were not there, and the evidence we received was that the police were ‘watching’ what was happening.”
Mr Sims responded: “Well I dispute that evidence of police watching. By the end of the first evening we had arrested 130 people, by the second evening that had more than doubled, and those arrests don’t happen by police officers watching.”
Giving evidence earlier, Amrick Ubhi, Centre Director for the Nishkam Centre on Soho Road in Handsworth said as the police presence increased in the city centre and around the Jewellery Quarter rioters made their way into Handsworth.
“What you had was the whole place turned up on its head because people were standing outside trying to protect their properties and didn’t believe or think that the police were responding quickly enough,” he told the Committee.
“The perception, even at that time, right on the coalface, was why is the police protecting the city and the jewellery quarter but not coming out to protect us?”
MP Khalid Mahmood echoed similar sentiments. He told the Committee: “The real serious issue was that people were saying that the police are just standing by and our shops and properties are being looted, nobody’s taking any notice. We’re calling the police, we’re asking them to do something and nothing is happening.
“This led to a number of people coming back out from the houses to stand outside their properties to protect them. That, to me, was a very, very grave position-where you’ve got people ready to defend their properties against these people.”