NEWS: Police “keeping an open mind” as investigations continue following the attack on Castle Vale High Street last week

Words by Ed King / Pics from the scene supplied by Castle Vale residents

Police were back on Castle Vale today, cordoning off areas around the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church as they search for more clues after the widely reported attack on the High Street last week.

Following the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene of the crime, and continued reports of local residents having heard gun fire, officers are now “keeping an open mind” as they continue their investigations.

On Friday 5 April, police responded to an emergency call at around 5:10pm where masked individuals were seen brandishing machetes and chasing another man into the Nisa convenience store on the High Street.

No injuries were reported, and within 72 hrs the police had arrested an 18 year old and a 16 year old for violent disorder.

Under the Public Order Act 1986, violent disorder can carry a jail term of up to five years if the accused ‘used or intended to use firearm or other highly dangerous weapon.’

But from the most immediate reports, including those who claimed to have witnessed the attack or the immediate aftermath, many members of the public also told they had heard what they believed to be gun fire – taking to social media to warn others on the close knit North Birmingham estate.

The first post on the popular Castle Vale Community Facebook Page, following the incident, read: “Shots fired up by Nisa… 4 lads with long blades.

“Speed off in a car people please get your kids in doors as there’s a lot about the high Street. Armed police now here.”

One local mother also posted: “My son was by St Cuthberts (Church) when he heard the shots and saw lads with machetes running into a car. The car was not far from him and he turned straight back around.”

The initial response from West Midlands Police, however, was that there was “no evidence of any gun being fired”.

But following continued reports from people living around the area, and the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene, Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) petitioned the police to step up their investigation.

On Saturday 6 April, the day after the initial attack, police returned to Castle Vale – using official police tape to cordon off the Pitstop Service Station and continue their forensic investigations.

Then again earlier today, Monday 8 April, blue and white tape was back up around the Tangmere Drive end of the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church – with officers at the scene telling members of the public it was related to the attack last Friday.

In a report issued later, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police confirmed: “An investigation has been launched into violent disorder that took place in Castle Vale on Friday (5 April).

“We were called to reports of an armed group chasing another man into a shop on the High Street at around 5.10pm and a report of a firearm being discharged.”

They continued: “Cartridges have also been recovered nearby, and will be examined to see if they are linked to the investigation.

“We’re keeping an open mind and we’d ask anyone with information to contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

West Midlands Detective Chief Inspector James Spencer added: “We understand the worry this has caused the community and are doing everything we can to establish what took place.

“Today we will continue CCTV enquiries and will be speaking to witnesses. We will also have our forensics team searching the area.”

He added: “There will be an increased police presence in the area this week to offer reassurance to the local community.

“Please come and speak to us if you have any concerns or information.”

But one concerned Castle Vales resident, who lives near the crime scene and wished to remain anonymous, told Erdington Local: “I would like to know why the police have taken three days to investigate the reports of gunfire from local residents and eyewitnesses. 

“The residents of this estate have been let down yet again. If this had been a more affluent area of Birmingham the police would have been on it immediately and the relevant areas cordoned off for forensic investigation.”

They added: “The police were told there were gunshots, gun cartridges were found, what more evidence did they need.”

After hearing the updated statement from West Midlands Police, Councillor Ray Goodwin also commented: “I welcome the development that West Midlands Police have now acknowledged that residents reported fire arms being discharged.

“I am concerned that the community was not listened to on Friday; what’s important now is the police ensure there is a presence and the community feels safety in the community they live in.”

Following the attack last week, Cllr Goodwin has previously promised to hold a ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ to address concerns over crime and policing on the Castle Vale estate.

No date has been set for the summit, although Erdington Local has been told that following the elections for West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner on 2 May – whomever is in office will be invited to attend.

The investigation into the attack continues.

If anyone has information regarding the attack on 5 April on Castle Vale, or that might aid the investigation, please contact West Midlands Police via their Live Chat:

Alternatively, people can call 101 and quote the crime reference number: 20/380920/24

NEWS: Police cordon off Pitstop Service Station after shotgun cartridges found following disturbance on Castle Vale

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Castle Vale residents

West Midlands Police have now cordoned off the Pitstop Service Station on Castle Vale, after a local resident found spent shotgun cartridges around the corner from where the violent attack that took place on Castle Vale High Street on Friday afternoon.

Following reports of a disturbance on Friday 5 April, where local residents heard what they believed to be gunshot fire and saw masked men wielding machetes, West Midlands Police (WMP) have been investigating on the estate.

In a statement issued by WMP earlier today, the force confirmed that whilst they acknowledged there had been “masked men… carrying machetes” they were not treating this as a gun related crime.  

But following the findings of shotgun cartridges from a local resident, and the insistence of Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin that the police treat this as a potential gun related crime, WMP have now come back to the North Birmingham estate to continue with forensic invetigations.

Having reported the incident earlier today and been told by WMP that “at this stage” the police had “no evidence of a viable firearm being fired”, Erdington Local has asked for any updates or developments .

At the time of writing, Erdington Local has been told of no immediate danger to any residents on Castle Vale and police presence in the area is purely investigational.

In their statement issued earlier today, WMP advised: “We’re investigating after weapons were brandished during disorder in High Street, Castle Vale, at just after 5.10pm yesterday (5 April).

“Up to four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes – chased another man into a shop. They then fled and no-one was injured.

“We’re carrying out CCTV – and other enquiries – and anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

Erdington Local has asked West Midlands Police for any updates on the investigation or possible threat to public safety.

NEWS: Castle Vale councillor to hold ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ after reports of shots fired and men carrying machetes on High Street

Words & pics by Ed King

Castle Vale’s Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) is set to hold an emergency ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ following reports of shots fired and men carrying machetes on the North Birmingham estate.

On Friday 5 April at around 5pm, several people posted messages saying they heard gun fire on or around the High Street and seen men wielding large knives – with some saying they had seen armed police and emergency services attend the scene.

Cllr Goodwin posted updates on his own Facebook page, confirming he had visited the area to “make sure residents are safe” and that the police had attended, but that things were “getting back to normal”.

He further added, in response to the incident and growing concerns over crime and policing on the estate: “We will be holding another Community Safety meeting… to talk about some of the issues we’re facing (on Castle Vale) as clearly some of these issues have not gone away.”

Posts on the popular Castle Vale Community Facebook page showed that some Castle Vale locals were even almost caught up in the violence, being close enough to witness aspects of the attack and even see those involved flee the scene.

Adam Stansbie posted: “Shots fired up by Nisa… 4 lads with long blades. Speed of in a car people please get your kids in doors as there’s a lot about the high Street. Armed police now here.”

Jess Bolton quickly confirmed: “Yes seen armed police car go along Manby Road however went off the estate at speed not long ago.”

Thankfully, at the time of writing no reports of anyone being injured have yet been made.

But the reality of how easily innocent bystanders could get hurt became all too apparent to those with families in the area.

On Friday afternoon, not long after the first reports of the incident came in, one local mother posted: “My son was by St Cuthberts (Church) when he heard the shots and saw lads with machetes running into a car. The car was not far from him and he turned straight back around.”

She added: “He’s a grown man and it shook him up. My husband has just drove by to go pick him up and there’s police and kids all dressed in black hanging around. Hopefully cameras will catch something. Really hope nobody was hurt!”

In a Facebook Live video from the scene, Cllr Goodwin further identified the need for the Castle Vale police station to be reopened and for “a proper police presence on this estate”.

Castle Vale was one of the first community police stations to be closed across the West Midlands, following the announcement made by West Midlands Police in 2015 that they would be shutting an initial 28 facilities to save money.

To watch the full video from Cllr Ray Goodwin, click here.

Cllr Goodwin later issued the following statement to Erdington Local: “Castle Vale is a strong vibrant community full of amazing individuals which is why tonight’s incident is more shocking.

“I am determined to deal with this issue head on and stop crime increasing further. This is why I am announcing we will be organizing a Community Crime and Safety Summit. Time, date, and venue will be announced shortly.

“I will be inviting the Police and Crime Commissioner, other local partners, and the MP Paullette Hamilton.

“I will be rolling my sleeves up to ensure more resources and better visible policing are allocated to Castle Vale.”

Erdington Local contacted West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulence Service for any updates or information.

West Midlands have released the following initial statement: “We’re investigating after weapons were brandished during disorder in High Street, Castle Vale, at just after 5.10pm yesterday (5 April).

“Up to four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes – chased another man into a shop. They then fled and no-one was injured.

“We’re carrying out CCTV – and other enquiries – and anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

For more on Councillor Ray Goodwin visit

NEWS: Man feared dead by staff and public after “beaten unconscious” in attack at Greggs on Erdington High Street

Words by Ed King / Pics by Claire Marshall

A man was feared dead today after being “beaten unconscious” during a random attack in Greggs in broad daylight on Erdington High Street.

After entering the popular sandwich and fast food eatery at around 1-1:30pm, two men got into a sporadic altercation at the counter.

After apprearing to be friends, the larger of the two men viciously “stamp(ed) on him, punched him (the victim) in the face, and kicked him while screaming,” leaving staff and customers fearing the man attacked was dead.

After emergency services were called to the scene, the victim of the horrific afternoon assault was taken to hospital with “serious injuries” – although following immediate concerns West Midlands Police were able to confirm the brutal attack was “fortunately… not life threatening”.

After Greggs staff called the emergency services, a statement from West Midlands Police further confirmed:

“We are investigating after a man was beaten unconscious in Erdington High Street around 1.30pm today.

“The man, in his 30s, was taken to hospital where he remains with serious injuries, although fortunately they are not life threatening.

“A 36-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of wounding and remains in police custody.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service added: “We were called to reports of an assault on High Street in Erdington at 1.26pm. Two ambulances and the West Midlands Care Team attended the scene.

“On arrival we discovered one male patient who was treated for seriously injuries before being taken to hospital.”

A local resident who was in Greggs at the time of the attack, saw first hand the random and violent nature of the one sided fight that broke out – in broad daylight, at a crowded busy high street establishment.

Not wising to be named, the local resident confirmed to Erdington Local: “I was at Greggs around lunch, when two men came in who appeared to be friends and got to the counter.

“Suddenly the bigger guy knocked the smaller guy onto the floor then proceeded to stamp on him, punched him in the face, and kicked him while screaming.

“He came back, attacked the guy again, then grabbed him by his feet sand dragged him to the door. I was sitting by the door. Two female staff got very upset, and one contacted the police.

“The two staff could not see him from the counter and one thought he was dead, and one of them pulled the metal shutter down. I shouted that the guy was moving and to stop lowering the shutter.

“He (the attacker) came back again screaming and stamping and hitting him (the victim), then pulled him out again.

“He was literally covered in blood, so I got the staff to bring over some tissues… staff contacted the police again, and eventually the ambulances and police arrived.

“While the injured guy was being attended to and four policemen stood outside the shop, talking to some people who had seen the attack outside, the attacker came back – somebody shouted to the police and they chased him round the corner and got him eventually by using a taser.”

NEWS: New police figures show 49% increasing in Erdington hate crimes during Covid

Words by Adam Smith

Hate crimes in Erdington have increased by 49% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspector Haroon Chughtai revealed 130 more people were victims of hate crimes between April and December, compared with the same period last year.

In his December email to Erdington locals, Inspector Chughtai said: “Around hate crime, there has been an increase of 49% which is around 130 extra victims of crime.

“There are no clear patterns or highly concentrated geographies – rather it is a real mixture of neighbour disputes, road rage incidents, abuse of retail staff and police officers.”

He added: “Hate crime is deplorable and something I will talk about in more detail in future messages.”

Hate crimes are those incidents in which the victims feel their race, sexuality, disability, or religion were the motivating factor for the preparators.

The shocking increase coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic and two lockdowns.

Inspector Chughtai has previously outlined the sharp increase of domestic abuse and violecne as relationships were put under extra strain due to lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions. As the year draws to a close, the shocking amount of victims of domestic abuse in Erdington proves another the human cost of Covid.

He said: “Domestic abuse has seen the most significant increase this year, around 45% – which is an extra 600 victims of crime and equates for just under one quarter of all the crime in Erdington.”

There has been a 17% increase in overall crime which equates to 1,400 more victims of crime in the area compared to last year. 

However, 2020 will be remembered for how the pandemic affected everyone and how police officers have had new challenges to face.

Inspector Chughtai said: “2020 has been a year I guess none of us will ever forget or truly get over, we have all had our lives changed and suffered in different ways and like all major events it has brought both the best and worst out in people.

“When I think of the best, I draw out people like the Erdington Task Force who have been extraordinary in how they have stepped up, the Stockland Green Action Group who have come together and in a short space of time played a big part in holding us and our partners to account and making the community safer.

“Places of worship who have stepped up and started food banks and other services to support their congregations and the wider community to get through this.”

Erdington’s top cop had a further message for offenders who have used the coronavirus lockdowns as cover for their violence and bullying.

He said: ”For me, the worst is the perpetrators of domestic abuse – who have taken advantage of the restrictions and made life unbearable for their victims, we will continue to everything to bring them to justice.”


If you believe you are a victim of domestic abuse or violence, call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 – for help online, visit or

To make an anonymous report about any crime, effecting yourself or others, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit

To receive updates from the Neighbourhood Policing Teams in your area, visit  

To find out more about Erdington’s police force, visit

For a list of support services, as compiled by members of the Erdington Task Force, visit

LOCAL PROFILE: Inspector Haroon Chughtai

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics supplied by West Midlands Police

(First published in Erdington Local’s Nov/Dec ’20 newspaper)

Haroon Chughtai is the West Midlands Police Inspector responsible for Erdington and Sutton Coldfield, overseeing both constituencies. Erdington Local caught up with the area’s top cop, to find out more about the man behind the badge.

Now 41 years old, Haroon Chughtai joined the police force in 2003 – straight after completing his degree in Business and Computer Science at Birmingham University. Being made Police Inspector for Erdington and Sutton Coldfield in January 2020, Haroon manages the neighbourhood teams and police staff across the two constituencies.

He cites his reasons for joining the police as “wanting to give back to the community,” as well as wanting to be an example of diversity in the force.

“I knew nobody who was a copper, I had no family members who were police officers. At that time, there was more of a drive to get the police force more representative – more black and Asian people.”

This literal ‘bobbie on his bike’ cycles to work regularly, operating out of Erdington Police Station, and bemoans the fact that he rarely gets out the office. Instead, Inspector Chughtai spends much of his time in the office overseeing “70-80” cops.

“I’m lucky if I get out once a month,” Haroon says, but thinks that “sometimes it’s important that I go out and see something for myself.”

When asked about changes in his career during his 17 years in the force, Haroon says that he is impressed with the “technological changes” the police have embraced and in the way it helps them operates. And in the days of cyber-crime and Internet criminality, the police now have to “operate online more, with social media.”

Inspector Chughtai also believes that huge government cuts during his time have caused the police to make “difficult decisions” such as being unable to deal immediately with “petty theft and crime.” Police departments across the country have been pushed to make substantial changes over recent years, with 16% of spending declining between 2010-2019 nationally.  

On the other hand, Haroon says that “The police force is much better at prioritizing things – based on risk and vulnerability. We deal with what needs to be dealt with immediately.”

During 2020, one of the biggest challenges for the local police force and for Haroon has been “the rise in domestic abuse”, with the Erdington Inspector estimating that domestic abuse accounts for “approximately a quarter of all Erdington’s crime.”

Victims are “predominantly women” with most offenders being male. This is also reflected in the rise of domestic abuse across the entire country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many violent relationships exacerbated during the national lockdowns. 

Inspector Chughtai found policing during the first lockdown “really challenging”, noting the “really poor understanding of what the restrictions were. The compliance wasn’t as good as it is now [to the rules].” This included non-essential businesses remaining open illegally.

When asked by Erdington Local to predict the immediate future of his role in the area, Haroon said that “Sadly, I think COVID is here to stay – the enforcement around COVID will have to continue”.

Haroon is also committed to reducing “under 25 violence”, especially referring to young people leaving school, hanging around streets and bus stops, and causing violent crime.  “In the past these sort of things might not have been recorded as crimes. Behind the bike-sheds a couple of lads have had a fight, nobody would remember – but nowadays, it’s officially reported.” Haroon and his officers work with parents and teachers to keep track of these crimes.

“I’m using all the overtime I have to tackle under 25 violence. We don’t want to criminalize kids, but we want to put some interventions in really early on.”

Asking Inspector Chughtai what he’d like to see changed in Erdington, he responds “a rebalance of housing market, especially with the sheer number of HMOs and hostels. It’s got more than anywhere else in the city – over 1000 in one concentration”. He wants HMOs to be “spread across the city, rather than being concentrated in small areas.”

Haroon’s regular monthly updates on the West Midlands Police website often report crime in neighbouring Sutton Coldfield as decreasing, whilst general crime rates increase across Erdington. But when asked about his own personal impressions of Erdington, he says that “Erdington’s got a real strong community spirit. You can see with the Erdington Task Force, and the Stockland Green Action Group.”

He says that Erdington is “unique” and that other inspectors from other parts of the city are surprised at hear how active the community is.

“During COVID there’s been a load of people that have stepped up to help people that are needy, that are vulnerable,” explains the Erdington Inspector. “It’s volunteers that do that work – it’s really selfless.”

To receive updates from the Neighbourhood Policing Teams in your area, visit

To find out more about Erdington’s police force, visit