Birmingham & Black Country

Theresa May 'inaccurate' over police authority riot roles

Bishop Derek Webley
Image caption Mr Webley said he did not want a "dog fight" with the home secretary

West Midlands Police Authority's chairman has said he is angry at "inaccuracies" made by the home secretary over his role in the riots.

In a speech in London, Theresa May criticised the "unaccountable, unelected and invisible police authority chairmen" during the trouble.

Bishop Derek Webley said he had taken Theresa May's comments as a personal insult.

He said restoring order was vital and they had worked hard behind the scenes.

The home secretary made her comments as she talked about giving police forces across England and Wales new guidance on how to deal with outbreaks of violence on the streets.

The rioting began in Tottenham, north London, last Saturday and then spread over the following days to other areas in the city before disorder started in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Gloucester and Bristol.

Mrs May said said there had been a clear contrast between the Mayor of London - who she said had been out on the streets - and what she called the "unaccountable, unelected and invisible police authority chairmen" in other parts of England.

The government has said it wants to replace police authorities with elected commissioners which would be more accountable.

Radical reform was now "more urgent than ever", Mrs May said on Tuesday.

But Mr Webley said authority members worked tirelessly behind the scenes and visibility was not just about seeking celebrity in the media.

'Action not rhetoric'

He said: "There's a lot of ways that visibility can be identified without it always being in the public face of people.

"What people want was action, not rhetoric, not great speeches.

"They wanted peace back in their communities and the visibility of the police authority was by supporting the police to deliver the numbers on the streets and to support the chief by saying whatever financial resources you require to do this, do it.

"That happened.

"The chief led the police service with admiration and clarity, our streets are now back to a relative calm and hopefully can be sustained."

He said he was reflecting on Mrs May's comments but said he did not wish to "get into a dog fight" with her.

"I'm reflecting on what the authority ought to do because this is not about a personal conflict with the home secretary," said Mr Webley.

"She's made a statement, I believe as we interpreted that statement in the context of the West Midlands, that statement was not accurate."