Between approximately 00:30 and 02:20 on Sunday, 6 September, at least one person was killed, and seven others were injured in a spate of stabbings that took place at four locations across Birmingham City Centre, England.
Police were first called to reports of a stabbing in Constitution Hill at around 00:30 local time. Shortly after, the West Midlands Ambulance Service received an initial call to Colmore Row and Livery Street at 00:40. Ambulance crews then attended to two further incidents in Irving Street and Hurst Street – the latter being where the city’s Gay Village meets the Chinese Quarter – at 01:52 and 02:00 respectively.
Despite there being no early indications the stabbings were terrorism, gang or disorder-related, they all appeared to be linked, prompting West Midlands Police to declare a ‘major incident’ in the city. No arrests were made initially, triggering a murder inquiry and a manhunt in the city.
Emergency services were quick to deploy to the incident scenes, with those injured being taken to hospital. Of the seven people injured, two remain in critical condition, while two others have been discharged.
The suspect is reported to have targeted people at random, according to a statement by police, with Chief Superintendent Steve Graham stated that there was no evidence to suggest that the stabbings were a hate crime.
On 7 September, police announced that they had detained a suspect in connection with the attacks. However, at the time of writing, details continue to remain unclear regarding the individual’s motives.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer both tweeted to thank the emergency services for their efforts and expressed their sympathy for those affected.
SOLACE GLOBAL COMMENT:
The actual motives for the attack remain unclear. It is hoped that the arrest of the individual will allow police to discover the motive for the seemingly random attack.
Despite police stating that the attack was not terrorism-related, previous similar attacks in the United Kingdom have been perpetrated by radicalised lone-wolf individuals using knives to attack members of the public indiscriminately.
Most recently, in June, a man attacked and killed three people in a park in Reading before being detained by police. The incident, which also involved an individual with a knife, was later declared a terrorist attack. Six days later, a stabbing occurred in Glasgow, this incident was not described as a terrorist incident.
The incident did, however, occur in part in an area of Birmingham with a strong LGBT+ community. There is the possibility that the attack was hate-motivated, targeting LGBT+ individuals, despite the apparent randomness that the victims were targeted.
Additionally, eyewitnesses have described the attacker walking calmly away after repeatedly stabbing one of the victims. Such a reaction opens the possibility that the attacker was suffering from an acute mental health condition. However, past studies have shown that people experiencing severe mental health episodes are far more likely to harm themselves than others.
There is also the possibility that the attacker was under the influence of drugs, with the location of the attacks in proximity to the city’s nightlife scene, where recreational drug use is prevalent.
Questions have also been directed at West Midlands Police, with many asking why the attacker was able to conduct an attack uncontested in four parts of the city’s centre over a 90-minute period. Birmingham city centre has a large number of CCTV cameras and is normally well policed. The police were also slow on releasing an image of the suspect, giving him time to escape.
SOLACE GLOBAL ADVICE:
Despite police ruling out terrorism as a reason for the attack, individuals should follow similar advice regardless of an assailant’s motives.
- If caught in a firearms or weapons attack, individuals are advised to follow the UK counter-terrorism policing advice of RUN, HIDE, TELL.
- Report any suspicious behaviour or activity to the authorities.
- Attacks of this nature are not uncommon in the UK, with two incidents occurring in June in Reading and Glasgow, as such, further similar incidents are possible, individuals should maintain a degree of situational awareness when in public.
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the authorities.
- Expect additional security and an increased police presence throughout Birmingham in the coming days and weeks.
- Despite this, normal travel can resume as long as travellers adhere to all COVID-19 restrictions.
The UK government states that the terror threat level is ‘substantial’, meaning a terror attack is likely. Islamist extremists continue to view the UK as a legitimate and high-profile target for attack. Terror attacks in the UK are likely to be perpetrated by self-radicalised individuals using low-tech means, such as knives and vehicles. Attacks could occur with little warning and may be indiscriminate.