Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham riots: Report 'is inflammatory' says MP

An MP says a council-commissioned report into the Birmingham riots includes inflammatory material.

The interim report contains poetry from the community and one appears to be from an Afro-Caribbean contributor criticising Asian businesses.

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, said the material "raises tensions and ignites issues".

The poetry may not appear in the final version, author Peter Latchford, from Birmingham City University, said.

In the report, published online, the author said it aimed to help encourage discussion.

He said words and quotes throughout the report were taken from people he met while compiling it.

'Element of community'

But Mr Mahmood said: "Things could get very serious and I'm very concerned about that, that's why I have raised it.

"Because, already people in the community - one side is saying one poem is good, the other side saying another poem is good - so it starts to raise tensions within a small element of the community.

"That extends, and that is what ignites issues as we have seen in Lozells and Handsworth for a long time."

The council said the report cost £30,000 and they chose Mr Latchford as he had previous experience in that field.

The terms of reference for the report were to outline how the council responded to the rioting and to assess the council's readiness to deal with such events, a spokesperson said.

The final draft is yet to be completed.

In a statement, Mr Latchford said: "I believe the poems - which were intended to help articulate the difficult emotions felt by some members of our local communities - have been misunderstood and now taken out of context.

"I sincerely do not wish to add unnecessary tension to our communities, indeed my aim is the very opposite.

"Therefore I will seriously consider not using the poetry in the final version of my report."

Police said last month almost 300 people had been charged in connection with the disorder in the West Midlands.

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