Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands Police 'absolutely confident' in riot response

Police are "absolutely confident" they could deal with rioting if it happened again in the West Midlands.

Shops were looted and violence erupted in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich over two nights a year ago.

West Midlands Police said it was now better organised and equipped to deal with a repeat of such unrest.

But the ex-chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, is concerned officers would still struggle with violence on the scale of last year.

The force is still hunting up to 145 people suspected of having been involved in the disorder.

'Numbers game'

Assistant Chief Constable of the West Midlands, Gary Forsyth, said: "We've looked in detail at our command capability so we've got the right people with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, to make the critical decisions."

"We are much more effectively engaged with our communities, so we would understand with much better notice and much more in advance if anything was likely to happen."

But Andy Gilbert, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation at the time of the riots, remains concerned about the force's ability to respond to such levels of unrest, because of government cuts.

In February, West Midlands Police confirmed more than 2,700 jobs will be cut by 2015 as it tries to save £126m over the next four years.

Asked if there could be a repeat of last year's events, Mr Gilbert said: "Yes it could. When it comes to mass public disorder, it really is a numbers game.

"This government inherited probably the best police force in the world and all they are doing is slowly taking it apart."

The Crown Prosecution Service has prosecuted 347 people to date in connection with the rioting in the region, resulting in 276 convictions.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites