AT A NEWS CONFERENCE: 'Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, Chair of the Council of Black-Led Churches, said: 'We want to convey our condolences to the families and friends of those people who have died as a result of the tragic events that have unfolded in Birmingham over the past few days. The people who have been injured are also in our thoughts and prayers. We are very keen to work together with all communities to bring about the restoration of calm and unity. We acknowledge that the catalyst for the disturbances is the alleged rape of a young Black woman and are anxious that she is able to come forward to speak with the police so that her case can be properly dealt with. There is a responsibility on behalf of the authorities to create the conditions in which the alleged victim is able to do this. We must understand that the situation is complex. There are social, political and economic issues which need to be addressed to allay concerns about inequality, especially among young people. What has become clear is that there are people in Birmingham who feel their grievances have not been properly understood or dealt with. We are committed to working with everybody to tackle these challenges and hold out our hands to all faith communities in our effort to achieve justice and peace. I call on everyone to remain calm and to be mindful that the right way to raise legitimate concerns is by peaceful means which do not stir up hatred and discord.'
* The Council of Black-Led Churches represents about 150 churches in the West Midlands and 30,000 Christians and is therefore the largest African Caribbean organisation. It works in partnership with the wider community including the statutory and voluntary sectors.