Birmingham rioters 'a greedy crowd'

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The Independent Online

A police chief today accused rioters of targeting Birmingham city centre out of greed.

West Midlands police have made around 138 arrests after outbreaks of violence last night and a string of raids this morning, Chief Constable Chris Sims said.

Revealing that at least 30 shops and other premises were attacked, he told reporters: "This was not an angry crowd, this was a greedy crowd."

Speaking during a press conference at the force's city centre headquarters, the chief constable said: "Last night was a really terrible night for the country and a very bad night for Birmingham.

"It was a night when all sorts of issues and behaviour from across the country were imported into the West Midlands and we experienced several hours of wanton theft, of damage and of disorder.

"And let me say this; this was not an angry crowd, this was a greedy crowd. What we were dealing with was dishonesty and disorder.

"We think at the height there were probably about seven to eight hundred people in the city centre. We had around 400 officers in protective equipment and of course other members of the force supporting them."

Mr Sims confirmed that a police station, on Holyhead Road in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, was set ablaze during the disorder.

He said: "I suppose I would say that I grieve for the police station but I would rather that a police station suffered than someone lost their home or their business."

Mr Sims said the force would have more than 500 public order officers on patrol tonight and was working to speed up arrest procedures, but he urged parents to help control the situation.

He said: "This was very different from the public disorder that we have experienced before. This was very focussed on looting and theft and we had to adjust our tactics as we went along to make sure that we dealt with it as you would expect us to.

"Many of the people that we have arrested, many of the people we have got on camera, are astonishingly young.

"They are teenagers, girls and boys, and I would appeal to their parents and to the wider community to make sure that they don't go off tonight on to the streets but stay indoors where they are safe.

"Let's move on from last night and make sure that as few young people as possible are on the streets tonight."