A West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent last night told almost 200 residents that his officers were "playing catchup" during last year's Lozells riots because of the massive number of calls.
Chief Supt Steve Jordan apologised to residents living in the Copthall Road area of Handsworth, who claim they were neglected by police and treated as a "no-go area" by the emergency services during the October 22 riots.
A control room was set up at Aston's Queens Road police station to deal with the incident in Lozells, while officers at Thornhill Road station in Handsworth concentrated on all other calls in north west Birmingham, the officer said.
He told residents at a public meeting that at the height of the disorder "Thornhill Road had run out of officers. All the officers were committed."
He said they "simply had more calls than the system was capable of dealing with", which had not happened since the Handsworth riots.
Chief Supt Johnson said he was investigating whether his own officers had failed to communicate properly, or whether the internal police system jammed.
He said the force was considering implementing a new IT system before the riots and was classified as 'excellent' in the Government's latest independent review in terms of attending calls. He added: "We were playing catch-up because the events of that night were wholly unprecedented."
A gang ran through the Copthall Road area on the night of the riots causing serious disorder.