Brave members of the public stepped in to stop what is believed to have been a homophobic robbery attempt in Birmingham’s gay quarter overnight.
City-centre CCTV operators despatched officers immediately at around 12:50am today after spotting the confrontation on a camera in Hurst Street, outside the Village Inn. Police were at the scene within two minutes but arrived to find that passers-by and people who had been drinking in the nearby bar had intervened to protect the victim.
Officers found the suspect unconscious in the street and members of the public comforting the 22-year-old man who had been targeted. He was taken to hospital by ambulance with cuts and bruises.
A 51-year-old man was also taken to hospital and subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon. He was later transferred to police custody where he continues to be held. A large knife was seized from the scene and an investigation is now underway.
Superintendent Richard Baker, from Birmingham Police, said: “This was extremely frightening for everyone involved and those members of the public who stepped in to stop the robbery were extremely brave to do what they did. They should be praised for their quick-thinking actions and for unnecessarily putting themselves in harm’s way, choosing to risk their own safety for the greater good.
“Often when people see a crime being committed, they act instinctively to intervene and help out, but we would never encourage anyone to put themselves in a position where they feel threatened or fearful for their own safety. Regardless of the circumstances, if anyone witnesses a crime in progress, their first action should be to dial 999 to alert police and get officers to the scene within minutes.”
Supt. Baker added: “Due to the abusive comments that were allegedly made by the offender whilst carrying out the attack, we are treating what happened as a hate crime, motivated by homophobia. Offences motivated or aggravated by prejudice or hate will not be tolerated by West Midlands Police and the courts have the power to impose tougher sentences in these cases.”
Any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police are urged to call 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more information on hate crime – including how to report offences – visit: www.report-it.org.uk.