The boss of the city’s main nightlife zone has urged revellers to ‘be kind’ after the city centre was rocked by violence and three tragic deaths.
Mike Olley, who runs the Westside Business Improvement District (BID), said the recent upsurge in violent incidents was most likely due to the sheer volume of people coming into the city post-lockdown.
“For every so many people there will be an incident, so if you’re increasing that, two, three, four ,five-fold there will be more incidents,” he told BirminghamLive in the wake of several concerning reports.
He spoke after a spate of serious violence ended in tragedy.
Matthew Carroll was out with his son and his friends who were involved in a fight just off Broad Street at around 1.30am on Sunday, August 29. The 50-year-old was struck with an object and fatally suffered a fractured skull. He died later in hospital.
Hours before, another reveller was left black and blue when he was set upon by seven men who tore a sentimental gold chain from his neck at Be At One cocktail bar opposite New Street.
Earlier in the month, property investor Jason Bentley-Morrison had left a Digbeth nightspot when he was knifed in the stomach. The 25-year-old was attacked in Oxford Street in the early hours of August 22 and later died in hospital.
A couple were also attacked in Birmingham’s Gay Village and a woman was left in a critical condition after her drink was spiked at Henman and Cooper.
The young clubber ‘died twice and was brought back to life’ after she was allegedly spiked with the date rape drug in the Colmore Row venue.
However, Mr Olley said they were “isolated” incidents and the biggest issue was the volume of people coming into the city after restrictions eased.
He said: “There’s never a single answer [to the increase of violence], the biggest is because there’s far more people at the moment.
“Far fewer people are going abroad, they still want to go out and they’re coming into the city centre, there is no two ways about it we’ve got exponential amounts of people. That’s probably the biggest problem.
“All the major incidents are happening in the early hours. People are tending to stay in the city a bit later.
“No one goes out with a view that they’re going to get beaten up or that they are going to beat someone up, they are events that occur, they’re flash points, driven by alcohol.
“We’ve always had violence in our society and we always will. I’ve got no concerns about police, they’re doing a sterling job. We’re seeing record amounts of police officers in the city centre.
He continued: “The way we manage our pubs nowadays is far better than we ever have police and wardens working together.
“If and when I go out into the night time economy, the buzz and feel is quite good, there are unfortunately some really nasty, isolated incidents.
“But they are isolated, that’s the key word there.”
He added that reassurance patrols, as always after violent incidents, had been stepped up in the nightlife areas of the city.
“No-one’s being put off are they, that’s for sure, the reality is it’s always a lot better than you think the situation is,” Mr Olley said.
“Overwhelmingly you are going to have a very peaceful, happy evening out. These nasty incidents are few and far between.
“If we do get a major incident, the perpetrator is always tracked down, you can’t get away with doing anything stupid in our city centre.”
Asked his advice to anyone heading out for a night, he added: “If something starts to become ugly, the best thing to do is move away from it and report it. We, the police, Brindleyplace – we know what we’re doing.
“Let’s just be nice and kind when we go out.”
His sentiment was also echoed by Chief Supt Steve Graham – responsible for policing in the city. Branding the violence “unacceptable” this week, he reassured revellers the police presence would be stepped up as they continue to work with security staff.
“We’ve seen an increase in people returning to our nightlife centres, which is great, and I can completely understand that people are excited to get out and let their hair down after the various lockdowns and restrictions,” he said.
“However the violence we’ve seen is simply unacceptable, it often starts as aggressive behaviour fuelled by excessive drinking and has had some devastating consequences.
“We’re stepping up our policing presence, and we continue to work with security staff in licenced premises, and our wider partners.
“Please come and enjoy our wonderful city – but be kind – we must look after each other and enjoy a great atmosphere.”
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