NEWS: Shocking new police stats reveal 25% of all crime in Erdington is domestic abuse

Words by Adam Smith

Domestic abuse has increased by a massive 38% in Erdington and now accounts for a quarter of all crime in the area, the latest crime statistics have revealed.

As the latest COVID-19 restrictions take hold there are fears violence at home could rise further, as victims become trapped with their abuser in their home.

Erdington’s top cop, Inspector Haroon Chughtai, promised domestic abuse is now a priority due the huge year on year rise in the crime.

In his September message to Erdington residents Inspector Chughtai outlined the extent of the problem.

He said: ‘Erdington is unfortunately showing a near 8% increase in overall crime, and that is an extra 421 victims of crime. 

‘Domestic abuse sadly contributes a large part to this increase with roughly over one quarter of the overall crime being domestic abuse offences. Domestic abuse continues to show increases with a 38% rise, which is 345 extra victims.’

He added: ‘Domestic abuse remains a force priority and we are determined to bring these numbers down.’

The United Nations described domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic’ after it emerged across the world there had been a 20% increase in the crime during various lockdowns – with victims physically trapped inside abusive households.

During lockdown the UK’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline revealed calls increased by 80%.

Inspector Chughtai described how combatting domestic abuse is a daily battle in Erdington.

He said: ‘Domestic abuse remains a critical force mission, and as such a significant amount of both local and force resources are invested daily into tackling it.

‘For us locally we focus on two key areas. Firstly prioritising pursuing and arresting offenders who are wanted for domestic abuse offences and secondly we identify repeat victim of domestic abuse each month and then take a problem solving approach to work with them and even at times the perpetrators to see what part we can play to break that cycle.

‘Whether that is seeking injunctions/prevention orders, supporting with house moves, signposting help and opportunities etc.’

Inspector Chughtai did also point to a reduction in robberies and burglaries in the latest crime statistics.

He said: ‘Robbery and burglary continue to show good reductions, with robbery showing a 19% reduction with 33 less victims of robbery, house burglaries show a 9% reduction with 28 less victims of burglary.

Under 25 violence shows a 15% reduction, with 23 less victims so far this year.’

Police resources are further being diverted to ensuring Erdington residents comply to the latest ‘rule of six’ COVID-19 restrictions are being obeyed. However, Inspector Chughtai explained fines will be given only as ‘a last resort’.

He said: ‘From the start of this pandemic, specifically around the policing of social distancing, our Chief Constable has been clear that enforcement will be a last resort, we will always look to engage, educate and encourage before we chose to enforce.’

For the latest COVID-19 guidelines visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

And for the local restrictions visit www.gov.uk/guidance/birmingham-sandwell-and-solihull-local-restrictions

For a database of local support services during the coronavirus crisis, provided by the Erdington COVID-19 Taskforce, visit www.erdingtonlocal.com/covid-19-local-support 
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If you believe you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can seek help and advice via the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247

For more information visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

NEWS: Erdington residents ‘not as positive’ about police support following burglaries – compared to neighbours in Sutton Coldfield

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington residents are ‘not as positive’ about the support they received from their local police Neighbourhood Team (NHT) following up burglaries, as compared to those in neighbouring Sutton Coldfield.

After a survey of over 200 victims of residential burglaries was conducted by officers from Erdington and Sutton Coldfield Neighbourhood Teams, responses show a chasm of concern between victims of break ins across the two districts.

In Sutton Coldfield, the survey found ‘the majority of residents received a visit from a NHT representative… (finding) these visits helpful and reassuring, with most feeling safer in their home following the visit.’

Whist for residents in Erdington, which suffers from around 1-3% more residential burglaries per month, the police’s survey found ‘their experiences were not as positive, particularly about the visits or contact they received from the NHTs.’

Despite rates of residential burglaries falling across both districts, with home break ins dropping by 76% in Sutton Coldfield and 16% in Erdington – as compared to the same time in 2019, investigation into police support following the crime has shown alarmingly mixed results.

Local resident, Sue Bicknell, has experienced two burglaries in the past few years. “The first time, I came home and there was a man standing in my hallway,” explains Sue. “I immediately slammed the door shut and called the police, who arrived in a couple of mins. Their response was excellent – they sent about five officers to my home and had cars scouring the streets.

“Then last year I was burgled again – I came home to find every draw and every cupboard had been turned over. The forensic team arrived a few hours later, with the Neighbourhood Team coming the next day – offering advice and links to Victim Support. No suggestions were made about improving my home security, but again I felt their response was good.”

Another Erdington resident, who wants to remain anonymous, called the police after she disturbed a violent gang trying to break into her home.

The nine masked men were messing with the key hole in the door,” explains the local mum, “I thought it was my brother in law, but it wasn’t.

As I opened the door they kicked it into my belly, I was seven months pregnant at the time, then went to hit me with a bat. I ran off into the bathroom shouting to my partner, as he came down they ran off.

I phoned the police and it took them 45 minutes to get to my home. They knocked on my neighbour’s doors, checked if the men had dropped anything, asked me questions and then left.

I didn’t hear anything from the police for about a month, so I went to Jack Dromey MP who wrote and asked the police why they hadn’t come back and checked up. Or even just rung us. The police replied that they were dealing with better investigations.”

But according to the recent survey, the police are taking steps to improve their response to burglaries in Erdington and to address the imbalance between the districts – examining how the Neighbourhood Teams can ‘be as effective in Erdington as it is in Sutton Coldfield.’

After contacting the police directly, Inspector Haroon Chughtai – who oversees the police teams in both Erdington and Sutton Coldfield – told Erdington Local:

I am convinced that while we play a part in investigating, patrolling , managing persistent offenders around burglaries the biggest contribution to reducing burglaries will come from focused work around prevention – whether that is target hardening individual homes through security measures such as alarms, CCTV, to simple things like making sure windows are not left open, being part of an active Neighbourhood Watch Team.

This survey was done to try and see what changes victims of burglary made post the offence and whether our visits helped them make positive changes.

We are trying to understand if the officers in Sutton and doing anything different to those in Erdington and if they are, how we can replicate it.”

To find out more about the police teams in your area, click here and enter the name of your location. Or for direct updates from West Midlands Police, visit www.wmnow.co.uk

To find out more about the police team in Erdington, visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/node/2710

For more on the Neighbourhood Watch schemes in your area, visit www.ourwatch.org.uk

For help and advice as a victim of crime, to contact Victim Support visit www.victimsupport.org.uk