Our response to recent homophobic attacks in Birmingham
Hate crime and keeping people safe in our nightlife centres are priorities for us. We run operations across weekends into the early hours with high-visibility and plain clothes patrols, plus regular passing attention paid by police vehicles.
Everyone should feel safe and comfortable to be who they are, we will not tolerate people being targeted in this way. This sort of offence is totally unacceptable.
Anyone who commits crime motivated by hate must understand we take it extremely seriously and that they face time in prison.
On 15 August, two men in their 30s were attacked with bottles having earlier been subjected to homophobic abuse shouted from a passing car in Bromsgrove Street.
We’ve arrested three men aged 24, 21 and 31 and are awaiting a charging decision from the CPS.
We have named suspects for the attacks on both Mr Brooks and John-Paul Kesseler. Detectives have been dedicated to these investigations and it’s only a matter of time before these two people are arrested.
Tonight we’re attending the protest outside Nightingale’s to stand in solidarity with the community, but more importantly to listen to their concerns and reassure that we are taking the matter seriously – hate, in all its forms, simply has no place in Birmingham or the West Midlands.
Superintendent James Littlehales from Birmingham Police said: “We’ve been running perpetrator-focused operations in Broad Street and the Gay Village for the past few months, looking to identify suspicious behaviour and prevent a wide range of offences from happening. This will continue and I’ve dedicated more officers to patrol the area.
“We’ll be working with door staff, venues, Street Wardens and partygoers. If you’re out in the Gay Village and you see anything that concerns you – let someone know. The Safe Haven in the Arcadian is a safe space for everyone to visit too.
“My team will looking at other initiatives we can put in place, including things we can do in conjunction with other organisations. But let me be clear – our focus is firmly on the perpetrators of these crimes – hate has no place in our city and we must intervene to stop hate crime at the earliest possible opportunity.”
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “The recent abhorrent, vicious homophobic attacks in Birmingham are a disgrace.
“For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.
“I have commissioned a new £200,000 service to support victims of hate crime and I am pleased West Midlands Police has stepped up patrols in the Gay Village.
“Hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will. We are a diverse city. We are an inclusive city. We are a city that says no to crimes like these.”
Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities for Birmingham City Council, said: “Hate in all its forms has no place in our city. Birmingham is a diverse city that welcomes all regardless of gender, race, sexuality or religion. So for someone to be assaulted just for being who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.
“We will continue to call out and challenge homophobes and hate crime because that does not represent Birmingham. Everyone has the right to be themselves and feel safe to go about their business, wherever they are – day or night.
“Birmingham City Council is providing free hate crime training to businesses at Southside venues as well as helping to develop a space open to anyone who may be feeling vulnerable when out and about in the Gay Village and the local area.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Birmingham’s LGBT+ community in saying hate has no place here.”
Unfortunately we know that members of LGBT+ community have grown up with hate, and to some extent low-level offences and verbal abuse are normalised and may not always be reported to police, for a variety of reasons. We want to be clear that hate, in all its forms, is completely unacceptable. It is not normal and we will take action wherever possible.
The more information we have about what is happening gives us a better chance to channel resources, identify offenders and prevent crime.
You can get in touch with us via Live Chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk 8am – midnight, or call 101 anytime. Alternatively you can use the hate-crime app or visit a third party reporting centre.
Galop is a national LGBT+ anti-abuse charity who support people who have suffered homophobia, transphobia and other forms of abuse. You can find more about the support available here.
For more support, including information on how to report an incident if you have been the victim of a hate crime, click here.
If you don’t feel comfortable reporting this directly to us, you can report it to True Vision online.