West Midlands Police hit back at Jess Phillips' comparison between Cologne sex attacks and 'Birmingham every weekend'

Jess Phillips said on BBC One's Question Time women are 'baited and heckled' every weekend in Birmingham

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The Independent Online

West Midlands Police have reassured people Birmingham’s nightlife is "a million miles away" from the comparison MP Jess Phillips made between the city "every weekend" and the Cologne sex attacks.

The police response comes after the Labour MP said on BBC One’s Question Time that attacks like those that took place in Cologne over New Year’s Eve happen to women in Birmingham every week, "where woman are baited and heckled".

Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, she said: "In every city there will be places where there are groups of men, drunk, and lots of stuff going on, and women have to constantly worry about being felt up or suffering street harassment.

"It happens to women all the time. It’s not just Broad Street, it’s on the Tube on your way into work," she added.

People took to Twitter to express their opinions on Ms Phillips’ comparison. Some agreed with what she was saying, as Sarah Burton did, tweeting "woman are harassed on the street everyday". 

While others, including VivaBrownie, thought the comparison was uncalled for.

Officers said attacks like those in Germany are "rare" and the city’s nightlife centre on Broad Street is a "safe and vibrant place".

Latest figures from the West Midlands police show that since the start of November, there have only been five serious sexual assaults reported in Broad Street, compared to the 800 reports police received on sexual assaults or robberies on New Year’s Eve.

Birmingham Police Inspector Gareth Morris said: "Around eight million people visit Broad Street every year – and while one incident of assaults is one too many, these figures illustrate that the vast majority of people enjoy their time in Broad Street without incident.

"Like any city centre we have issues linked to people out drinking… but the types of attacks reported in Germany are a million miles away from anything my team encounters in Birmingham.

"Birmingham is a safe, positive and vibrant place. We have high-visibilty patrols to erasure night-time revellers.

"There is certainly nothing to suggest any crime patterns or trends related to immigration."