The West Midlands police and crime commissioner has said a rise in violence was “almost inevitable” due to the pandemic in the wake of a spate of stabbings in Birmingham.
Detectives launched a murder investigation after a man died and seven people were injured in stabbings in the city centre during the early hours of Sunday.
Police currently believe the stabbings were carried out by one suspect and are not linked to terrorism.
David Jamieson spoke at a press conference following the incidents, telling reporters the city was “well used to activity”.
He said: “I think what is different is the randomness of this particular event but also the number of other events that were happening as well.
“The amount of violence that was happening is actually very, very disturbing.”
Mr Jamieson said a rise in violence should be expected due to the lockdown and pandemic, though he added that Sunday’s incident may not be connected.
He continued: “I have been saying for some time, in the context of Covid-19, that a lot of the pent-up feelings that people have, and not being able to get out, and combine that with people who are now unsure about their future and about their jobs, it was almost inevitable that we would see a growth in violence.
“I’m not saying that this is directly related to that, but nevertheless we are seeing now a growth of violence among younger people, particularly younger males, we’re seeing that growing across the region.
“My fear is that if we don’t address that and some of the underlying problems with some urgency then we could see that grow.
“But, notwithstanding that, Birmingham is a good place, it’s a good place to be, it’s a safe city and it is regrettable that this awful incident happened last night.”
🔴 We are treating four incidents from last night as a linked series, and are looking for one suspect.
🔴 Enquiries to identify and trace him are ongoing.
🔴 We're trawling through CCTV images, and will release any images which may help our investigation as soon as we can.
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) September 6, 2020
Officers are searching for a single suspect and have appealed for the public to come forward with any information or footage.
Mr Jamieson thanked the police for their work and added the incident would be reviewed with Birmingham City Council to consider whether new measures were needed in the city centre.
In May, the elected commissioner warned criminal gangs were “coming out of lockdown” amid a rise in street violence.
He later warned about threats of serious disorder ahead of the reopening of pubs in July.