Shootings and violence on the rise in West Midlands with criminal gangs 'coming out of lockdown'

Jessica Carpani
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson last year - SWNS 

Shootings and violence are on the increase in the West Midlands with criminal gangs "coming out of lockdown", the region's police and crime commissioner has warned.

David Jamieson said there has been "a large increase in gun discharges" and a rise in street violence in recent days.

He was speaking after a series of street shootings in Birmingham, with at least three incidents in two days.

West Midlands Police released dramatic footage of one of the shootings, where a car was rammed off the road before a hooded gunman opened fire on the fleeing occupants in the Balsall Heath area.

Addressing a meeting of regional health and local government leaders on Friday, he said: "We're now seeing the increase of violence on the streets.

"The gangs - they too are now coming out of lockdown.

"We've seen quite a large increase in gun discharges across the West Midlands, mainly in and around the centre of Birmingham, but really in all areas.

"The gangs are fighting for territory, [they're] getting really quite bold.

"So that violence that we've known before is there now manifesting itself."

He also said he is concerned the levels of violence "are going to increase" by July and August without measures to keep young people - particularly young men and teenage boys - in education, training or employment.

It came as John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said on Friday that social media sites had provided a "breeding ground" for rival gangs to taunt one another during lockdown.

Mr Apter told the Telegraph: "We are very much aware of the pressure cooker that has developed when it comes to gang members who want to create mayhem when this lockdown is eased.

"Social media platforms have been a breeding ground for individuals to bait each other during this crisis, and that's potentially a recipe for disaster because when the unlock does start to happen then those gangs will want to come together to settle scores."