NEWS: Local community join city leaders at candlelit vigil for killed schoolboy Dea-John Reid

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics by Joe Marchant

On Friday 31 May, the Kingstanding and local community stood in silence at the exact spot where 14-year-old Dea-John Reid was stabbed to death in 2021 – at a special memorial event held three years ago to the day the schoolboy was killed in broad daylight on College Road.

Those attending the candlelit vigil include Dea-John’s friends and family, alongside local community leaders, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, Edgbaston MP Preet Gill, Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, and Birmingham City Council Leader John Cotton.

The mood was mournful but defiant, unlike the vigil a week after Dea-John’s death in 2021 which pulsated with anger after hundreds of protestors descended on the area from across the country.

The racial tinderbox which could have exploded in the aftermath of the schoolboy’s killing never did, due to the hard work of local community members who worked to untie and not divide the Kingstanding or North Birmingham community.

However, the subsequent not guilty verdicts from the highly publicised murder trail sadly did little to quell the growing frustration and anger.

But that anger turned to action, and the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign has been working to make changes to the judicial process that they feel let them down in 2021.

Addressing the crowd at the 31 May vigil on College Road, the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign informed how they want to create ‘Dea-John’s Law’ – which would see jury members reflect the racial make up of an area.

In the 2021 murder trial, 11 jurors in Dea-John’s case were white in a city of 52% ethnic minority residents.

Bishop Desmond Jadoo and Dea-John’s mother, Joan Morris, led prayers at the spot where the teenager died.

Bishop Jadoo told Erdington Local: “This evening has been a success. I was pleased to see the Leader of Birmingham Council and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner here today, as well as MPs.

“What happened here three years ago, if filmed it would have been something like Mississippi Burning, and though it is important to remember Dea-John’s name and honour his memory we have to try and change the system which let him down.”

He added: “To have the backing and help of the University of Birmingham is also really important to our campaign. We have got support from young people who want to get involved, they want to see the

“We are campaigning for a civil rights law too. We cannot forget the horrific injustice which Dea-John suffered on the last day of his life and when the verdict was passed by 11 white jurors.”

At 7.34pm, a minute’s silence was held for Dea-John and then balloons were let off into the sky followed by chants declaring: “Say his name, Dea-John Reid”.

Birmingham City Council Leader Councillor John Cotton told Erdington Local: “I came to show solidarity with Dea-John’s family and stand with the community today. What happened here three years was a terrible racist murder.

“We are a majority minority city and I think the campaign is important because I believe public institutions need to reflect the communities they make decisions about.”

He added: “I think juries should reflect their communities.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster also told: “I think it was necessary to pay our respects to Dea-John and give our condolences to Dea-John’s family.

“Any change to the criminal justice system should be done after evidence led academic study. I think Birmingham University coming on board with the campaign which will give it an academic rigor which is needed.”

PICTURE GALLERY: Candlelit vigil for Dea-John Reid on third anniversary of schoolboy’s death

For more on the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ campaign visit www.facebook.com/Justice4DeaJohnReid

OPINION: A view from the Vale – Cllr Ray Goodwin

Words by Cllr Ray Goodwin (Castle Vale Ward, Labour)

It’s been a busy few weeks on Castle Vale.

Work is about to start shortly on Filton Croft and by the time you will have read this we will have held our Crime and Community Safety Summit.

A lot has been said over the last few weeks about politicians not listening to the communities they represent, but one of the things I have done over the last two years has been open and accessible to residents – this is why my regular estate walk abouts are so important, it means I can talk to residents to listen to their concerns and issues and deal with them straight away where possible.

My commitment is to continue to do this and talk to as many people as possible on a daily and weekly basis and discuss what matters to them most, Castle Vale!

I want local democracy to be at the heart of everything I do, and this is the best way to do this. I see residents on a daily basis for appointments. But, also, I hold a monthly advice surgery for residents as well.

Whilst over the last two years a lot of good things have happened – including securing a new bus route to the fort shopping centre.

There is now, however, more to do, and I will be leading the charge to the West Midlands mayor that there is a train station and that station is called ‘CASTLE VALE’.

For more from Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin visit www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale 

NEWS: Castle Vale Councillor to hold ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ at Greenwood Academy on 18 May

Words & pics by Ed King / Profile pic supplied by Cllr Ray Goodwin

Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) is to hold a special ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ to address concerns of crime and policing on the estate.

Scheduled for Saturday 18 May, the event will be held in Greenwood Academy’s main school hall from 1:30pm – open to all and free to attend.

Local residents and community groups will be invited, as will the local police force, representatives from the estate’s main housing provider The Pioneer Group, and the Erdington constituency MP Paulette Hamilton.

Cllr Goodwin has informed Erdington Local he will further be inviting the sitting West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, who will both begin their new terms in office from 2 May.

Cllr Goodwin has organised the public meeting after being “fed up” with the “hands off approach” to policing on Castle Vale, and the dangers a lack of visible police presence can allow.

Having held a previous public meeting about safety on the estate in 2023, Cllr Goodwin has pushed forward this year’s ‘crime summit’ after police seemingly ignored local witness reports of gun shots following a “violent disorder” on the High Street on Thursday 5 April.

According to the police’s initial statement issued on Friday 6 April, the attack, which took place in broad daylight in and around the Nisa convenience store, was isolated to “four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes”.

However, multiple Castle Vale locals reported hearing what they believed to be gun shots and took to social media to warn others about the incident.

Cllr Goodwin repeatedly petitioned police to escalate their investigation and take seriously the potential involvement of firearms, even taking them to where spent shotgun cartridges had been found near the scene of the crime.

Days later and after heavy rainfall, police returned to continue with forensic investigations, stating they had received “a report of a firearm being discharged” and were “keeping an open mind” about the nature of the assault.

Cllr Goodwin told Erdington Local: “Like many residents, I am fed up with what feels like a hands off approach from the police when it comes to crime on Castle Vale. I understand budgets have been cut, but the lack of police presence on the estate is a serious concern.

“Plus, the seeming unwillingness to listen to local residents is totally unacceptable – we should be working together to keep Castle Vale safe; residents should not have to push the police into action over reports of serious crime.”

Crime on Castle Vale is often a cause for concern amongst the local residents, businesses, and civic stakeholders who live and work on the estate. In a recent Ward meeting, one of the action plan points was how to make Castle Vale ‘bold and safe’ – with a formal request to see the estate’s CCTV upgraded featured on the meeting minutes.

The absence of a local police station in Castle Vale has also often been criticised, following its closure after West Midlands Police announced an initial 28 community stations were getting axed in 2015. The building, situated at the end of Castle Vale High Street, has now been converted into apartments.

But whilst the impact of crime and the loss of community policing is felt across the city, there are a mix of opinions about how these issues directly affect life on the north Birmingham estate.

One Castle Vale resident told Erdington Local: “I don’t think the policing on Castle Vale is any worse than other areas of Birmingham. The recent incident (on 5 April) highlighted the fact that the police need to listen to the residents more and take on board what they say. 

“If it hadn’t been for Cllr Ray Goodwin and Erdington Local, they would not have investigated the firearms involvement. A bigger police presence would be appreciated at night when the street cruising and racing around the estate is rife.”

However, another Castle Vale local and young mother added: “I can’t let my children play out on the estate due to the amount of violent crime which goes unchecked. If there was a more visible police presence there wouldn’t be as many teenagers out to cause trouble. 

“Youngsters on motorbikes race round the estate and, even if reported, the police don’t come to investigate or find them. We also need the CCTV system to be fully functioning and monitored 24 hours a day.”

Organised by Cllr Ray Goodwin, the ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ will be held at Greenwood Academy from 1:30pm on Saturday 18 May – free to attend and open to all.

Updates will be posted online at www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale and on Erdington Local

OPINION: A view from the Vale – Cllr Ray Goodwin

Words by Cllr Ray Goodwin (Castle Vale Ward, Labour)

Castle Vale is a community rich in talent with good and decent people who look out for each other – and this became really apparent over the last few weeks with the high-profile incident on Castle Vale High Street. 

It is because of the amazing community that Castle Vale is resilient and will bounce back bigger, better stronger.

However, I won’t be resting on my laurels and I will be making sure Castle Vale is getting the best deal possible. I will be holding a ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ on the 18 May 2024 at Greenwood Academy from 1.30pm onward.

I will be inviting a representative from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, the West Midlands Mayor’s office, and the Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton. The Pioneer Group housing association has already agreed to attend.

My biggest ask is that we reopen a visibly present police station.

The Pop-Up Police Station is great, but it’s not enough. We need to ensure that the incident that occurred on 5 April on the High Street is an isolated incident, and that we do more to not only tackle crime but to deal with the issues that lead to crime.

I won’t be taking no for an answer, and I won’t allow Castle Vale to be treated like second best.

I will stand up be counted and do what needs to be done to represent this amazing community.

For more from Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin visit www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale

NEWS: Responsibility for crime fighting strategy in Erdington to stay with Police and Crime Commissioner after courts reject Home Office appeal

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics by Ed King

The responsibility for a strategy to fight crime in Erdington and across the West Midlands will stay with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) office, after the Court of Appeal rejected a Home Office appeal which would have seen the role taken over by the West Midlands Mayor.

On Friday 22 March, judges at the Court of Appeal denied legal requests made by the Home Office that countered a previous High Court ruling, made earlier in March, blocking the Government from amalgamating the PCC’s office into the West Midlands Combined Authority’s portfolio.

The argument presented by the Home Office was that the Mayor’s office could be more effective in supporting a crime strategy, alongside their other roles and responsibilities across the region.

However, the legal battle began when Labour’s incumbent PCC for the West Midlands, Simon Foster, challenged the Home Office over their decision to combine the roles – arguing the required consultation had not been honoured and repeatedly calling the move a “hostile takeover.”

At the time, Mr Foster said: “The Mayor’s hostile takeover of PCC powers represents nothing more than his own personal vanity project and it is in no-one’s interests, save that of the Mayor. I am concerned that this hostile takeover will mean more cuts, more chaos and more crime.”

He added: “This is a matter that is entirely of the Mayor’s own making. I have repeatedly advised him against this shocking waste of taxpayers’ money. The Home Secretary and the Mayor are more than happy to spend taxpayers’ money on legal costs when it suits them.

“The people of the West Midlands will be rightly concerned that the Mayor’s cynical, divisive, unnecessary and undemocratic power grab, that has never secured a local democratic mandate in the West Midlands, would waste up to a shocking £3.5 million.”

England and Wales saw the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) in 2012, following campaign pledges made by both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to reform policing procedure in the 2010 General Election.

Mr Foster was voted as PCC for the West Midlands in May 2021, retraining the role for Labour since it first came into being in 2012.

However, last November the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, agreed with requests made by the West Midlands’ Conservative Mayor, Andy Street, for the West Midlands Combined Authority to absorb the PCC’s responsibilities – which became possible following the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act passed in 2023.

Most local police forces are represented by a Police and Crime Commissioner, but since the change in legislation last year, London, Manchester, and West Yorkshire have all devolved the powers of the PCC to the regional Mayor’s office.

But in what could be seen as an overtly political move, to take regional policing powers away from the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner and transfer it to the Conservative Mayor, has created frustration on both sides of the aisle.

Richard Parker is the Labour candidate for Mayor and if he beats Andy Street in the elections on 2 May, he will now be in the position of having fewer powers due to a Labour PCC’s legal challenge.

A Labour source told Erdington Local: “Simon Foster’s legal challenge was the last thing we needed.

“It has confused the optics of the election. We are favourites to win the mayoral election so it is not about Mr Street but about the office of Mayor.

“And if we win it feels like we have shot ourselves in the foot before starting on our first day.”

The source added: “Simon (Foster) had a good run as PCC, especially as he was a Corbyn man who stayed long after the party had changed, and sometimes you should just accept time’s up.”

Erdington Local met with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on Thursday 21 March, at his first public address on his re-election campaign – held at Stockland Green School on Slade Road.

When asked about the challenge made my Mr Foster over the region’s police and crime responsibilities being moved over to the Mayor’s office, he said: “This should have been straightforward. Mayors in London, Manchester, Leeds, and soon Sheffield, all have the powers of the PCC now. However, we have got ourselves into a process which involves a legal battle.

“I have no interest in processes, I just wanted to get on trying to cut crime in the West Midlands because the PCC has around for 12 years and obviously does not work because crime has gone up.”

He added: “I am deeply disappointed with Simon (Foster) for legally challenging the Home Office decision. This is not my legal case, or appeal, the Home Office lodged the appeal. And now we are all in the courts hands, but it is no way a done deal and I am confident they could win.

“People are worried about crime. This would have made sense in the battle against crime in the West Midlands. The mayor, just like in London and Manchester, is in the best position to deliver policies in fighting crime.”

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP representing Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I care about the issues that affect you and our community. Here are some of the things I have done in the past month:

I recently hosted a meeting with Simon Foster, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Superintendent Richard North, local traders, and officials from Birmingham City Council. 

We discussed the ongoing issues of crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Importantly, they heard concerns from our traders, recognising the need for more robust measures to enhance security and enforcement, and the need to work more closely to combat crime in the area.

I was also approached by traders on Slade Road who raised concerns about issues they were experiencing, including theft, antisocial behaviour, and the presence of sex workers. I empathised with the challenges facing local traders and will be following up on their concerns and working towards a constructive solution. 

I recently participated in a National Day of Action for Safer Streets to prevent road accidents, injuries, and deaths. As part of this effort, I’m backing the campaign to reduce speeds to 30mph on local roads. I would urge everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation – please do get in touch if you want to know more. 

Despite 13 years of Conservative cuts to policing, I will not give up on fighting crime and antisocial behaviour in our area. I will keep working to secure the resources we need to keep our community safe. 

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: Erdington to get permanent police Inspector as Rachel Derby leaves Birmingham force

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington is set to get a permanent police Inspector, as the constituency’s temporary ‘top cop’ Rachel Derby will be leaving Birmingham to join the Staffordshire force.

After Erdington’s previous Inspector, Haroon Chughtai, left the constituency in January 2022 – being promoted to Chief Inspector to work in Counter Terrorism – Rachel Derby was the police’s trusted pair of hands who took over whilst a long-term placement was being found.

Nearly a year later and following a “robust HR process” from West Midlands Police, Erdington is about to welcome a full time Inspector to take over the Neighbourhood Police Unit (NPU) and deliver the on-street strategy for combatting crime in the area.

In the final recruitment stages, West Midlands Police will be announcing the name of the new Erdington Inspector “imminently”.

Currently on annual leave, Temporary Inspector Rachel Derby worked her last shift in Erdington on Friday 14 October – handing over to Police Sargeant Frances Clark, who stands as the coordinator for the local NPUs and has a proven track record in community policing.

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police told Erdington Local: “Temporary Inspector Rachel Darby developed excellent relationships with communities in Erdington during her time policing the constituency.

“Rachel is going to Staffordshire Police on promotion next month and is currently on a two-week period of annual leave before she officially transfers.

“In the meantime, Sergeant Fran Clark has oversight of Sutton & Erdington constituency as the coordinator supported by the senior leadership team which is not unusual when Inspectors are on leave.

“This includes a dedicated local policing Chief Inspector and Superintendent who have ownership and responsibility for Birmingham East Neighbourhood Policing Unit.

“We have robust HR processes in place to fill Rachel’s post. This work is currently being done and Rachel’s successor will be starting imminently.”

Since 2010, the West Midlands has seen £175m pulled from its policing budget – losing around 2000 officers, 25% in active service and over 50% allocated to community policing.

Erdington suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the city, with regular calls for more police presence from Erdington residents, community groups, and constituency stakeholders.

In December last year, a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was reinstated around Erdington High Street – giving local police the power to forcibly remove anyone from the ‘Restricted Area’ they suspect to be intoxicated or causing anti-social behaviour.

Despite being widely welcomed by many who live and work in the Erdington ward, since the PSPO came back into being – having previously operated until 2018 – some local residents feel the extended police authority has made minimal impact.

One Church Road resident, who lives a short walk form Erdington High Street, told: “I thought the idea of the PSPO was great, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference.

“Earlier this year a man was nearly beaten to death outside Greggs. Things like that shouldn’t be allowed to happen on a busy High Street with a police station five minutes away.

“I can see the High Street from my kitchen window and I hear fights and drunken arguments nearly every night.

“We need more police on the street, plain and simple – at the moment the High Street is basically policed by the Street Warden and some very dedicated Community Support Officers.”

Paulette Hamilton MP has had tackling crime in the constituency high on her agenda since taking office in May this year.

The Erdington Member of Parliament will be bringing the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, to discuss issues over crime with local partners in January 2023 – at her regular ‘Big Conversation’ event.

Simon Foster previously came to Erdington for a tour of the High Street with the late Jack Dromey MP in November 2021, and to meet with the newly formed Street Pastors.

During the visit he told Erdington Local: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy.

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens,.

“All of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

NEWS: West Midlands Crime Commissioner celebrates ‘fantastic job’ by Erdington Street Pastors

Words & pics by Ed King

On Saturday 13 November, the Erdington Street Pastors were joined on their morning patrol by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – walking with the team up and down Erdington High Street.

Celebrating the efforts of the Street Pastors, Simon Foster told Erdington Local: “My message to the Street Pastors is that they’re doing a fantastic job on Erdington High Street.

“I think it’s a brilliant initiative and I’ve been very pleased to support it as Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It really does help the neighbourhood police teams; helping them prevent crime, protect people, and ensuring that vulnerable people are kept safe.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who also joined the Street Pastors and Simon Foster on patrol and talking to people on Erdington High Street, added: “The Street Pastors reassure the local community that the High Street is a welcoming place that they can go to.

“As Simon (Foster) has said, they reach to and put their arms around sometimes some of the most vulnerable in our community who have fallen through the net and as a consequence of which sometime behave badly.”

A global initiative, Street Pastors are currently active in over 240 cities and town across the UK – including 20 in the West Midlands alone. Twelve Street Pastors have been patrolling Erdington High Street since their ‘commissioning’ on Saturday 18 September.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors help tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim is lead pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington and Chair of the Erdington Street Pastors, who joined with churches across Erdington to bring the inititive to the area.

An active Street Pastor himself, Pastor Rasaq led the Saturday morning team on patrol with Simon Foster and Joack Dromey. He told Erdington Local: “It’s greta to have Simon (Foster) join us on patrol in Erdington, he has been humbly walking with us for two hours – meeting popel and seeing what we do.

“Erdington Street Pastor have been well supported by the West Midlands Crime Commissioner’s office and we look forward to building on that partnership.”

But since 2010 the West Midlands has had £175m pulled from its policing budget, seeing a drop of over 2000 police officers – around 25% of those in active service, and over 50% allocated to community policing..

Recently re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the region, Simon Foster has put this top of his agenda.

He added: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens, all of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

A very real concern for many across Erdington, Jack Dromey has been hearing about street safety from local residents during sessions at his surgery.

He explained: “If you lose 2000 police officers, if you lose so much of the social fabric that diverts young people from crime, what you see as day follows night is a rising crime and that’s wrong.

“Time, and time, and time again I get people who come to my surgery – people I’ve met today on the High Street here with Simon (Foster) – who say, at the most extreme, we’re afraid to go out at night, we no longer feel comfortable in our community, on our High Street. That is absolutely and fundamentally wrong.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at [email protected]

For more on the Street Pastors initiative visit www.streetpastors.org

NEWS: Stockland Green to get £432,000 anti-crime investment from Government’s Safer Streets Fund

Words by Adam Smith

CCTV and other anti-crime measures will be installed in Stockland Green after a £432,000 grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council applied for the money after a rise in crime in Stockland Green attributed to increased exempt housing in the area.

As well as CCTV, improved lighting, and security gates, the money will be used to clamp down on burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft.

The Government promised more funding will be available to target changing the behaviour of some men, so women and girls feel safer.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said:

“After years of essential preventative public services being starved of funding it is good to see we’ve been able to secure some additional money to make small, but not insignificant, improvements to our streets.

“We know there are simple things that can be done to prevent crime and, working with the council, we intend to use this money to do them.

“We’ll tighten security where we think it can be tighter and make sure CCTV is fitted in crime hotspots.”

Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “This is very welcome news and will be a real boost to our efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and support the community.

“The Council will be working closely with residents, the PCC, and the police to make sure this extra money helps to deliver a safer neighbourhood for everyone who lives or works in Stockland Green.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey welcomed the cash injection after constituents complained about the changing nature of Stockland Green, blaming a mushrooming number of HMOs on the increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.

He said: “I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are worried, many say they do not feel safe in their local area.

“Securing almost half a million pounds from the Safer Streets Fund will help protect local communities from crime by funding the installation of additional street lighting to deter criminals and the fitting of CCTV in problem areas so we are able to catch those committing crimes to ensure they are brought to justice.”

He added: “I’d like to pay tribute to West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and local campaigners who have worked hard to secure this funding that will improve the lives of residents in Stockland Green.”

For the latest news from West Midlands Police visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/news