Birmingham stabbings: Terrorism decision may have saved lives

Birmingham stabbings: Terrorism decision may have saved lives

A decision not to treat multiple stabbings in a city centre as terrorism may have saved lives, a report found.

One man died and seven were injured during the attacks in Birmingham on 6 September and police were initially criticised for their response.

The West Midlands force conducted a review and found it acted “appropriately and professionally”.

It said declaring a terrorist incident could have delayed medical aid to victims, risking further loss of life.

The findings were presented by Chief Constable Dave Thompson to a strategic policing board meeting.

Jacob Billington, 23, from Crosby, Merseyside, was fatally stabbed in the neck. He was on a night out in Birmingham.

His friend, Michael Callaghan, was also attacked and is at a specialist neurological hospital where he is expected to stay for a number of months, the meeting heard.

The force has had to defend its response to the four clusters of attacks after being criticised for not responding fast enough and the time taken to release images of the suspect.

Its review said there was “rapid deployment of significant armed and unarmed officers” to the city centre.

The decision not to classify the stabbings as a marauding terrorist attack – known as Operation Plato – allowed ambulances to attend the scene quickly rather than being held back for safety reasons, Mr Thompson said.

Operation Plato is a plan for dealing with a suspected marauding armed terrorist and the chief constable said declaring it was “a dilemma”.

The plan is under review nationally after it was declared in response to the Manchester Arena bombing.

“I am very satisfied the decisions made on the night were right,” Mr Thompson said.

Zephaniah McLeod, 27, from Selly Oak, Birmingham, has been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

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