Fans scanned as boxing returns to Walsall Town Hall after Reagan Asbury stabbing - with PICTURES and VIDEO
Beefed up security measures were in place as boxing returned to Walsall Town Hall for the first time since the death of teenager Reagan Astbury in October.
An airport-style knife arch scanner was set up to monitor all those who entered the venue for The Class of 2018 show – a move organisers say 'only brings extra safety'.
BCB head of boxing Errol Johnson said: "I don't think it brings a negative light to the sport but it would have been good if they would have done it as an all-around thing.
"it is just highlighting one unfortunate event that happened between two sets of fans outside the venue and spilled out.
"We have already used a knife arch at two of our other shows since in Bilston but obviously because this is a council venue it is high profile - but we have used this venue for 18 years and done over 100 shows with no repercussions.
"It was just one unfortunate incident which probably never will get reciprocated again but I think it happened at a time when there has been a lot going on in Walsall as well so I think it has just highlighted everything.
"It is only good, it only brings an extra safety - hopefully it helps in the long term."
Ten bells rang out at the start of the event for 19-year-old Reagan who tragically lost his life outside the venue back in October when an altercation broke out.
The fighting which started shortly after an IBF World Title bout between Luke Paddock and Myron Mills and spillled out onto the streets where Reagan was stabbed in the neck.
It has seen the introduction of the knife arch at the venue - which is jointly owned by Walsall Council and West Midlands Police and was purchased through an allocation of £4,000 from the Safer Walsall Partnership fund.
Mr Johnson says he had 'expected' the safety measure to be brought into the council-owned building following the events of October.
He said: "I expected it because it is a council building. If this was not a council building I think there would have been things done and things put in place but I do not think it would have been the same scrutiny.
"We only started BCB this time last year - it has only been going a year but I have been in the promoting game for 20 years.
"You can see it happens at the big events like when we went to Germany when we got a lad promoted by the German Sauerland's - he boxed in Stuttgart and they had police with guns and everything outside. It was to that level and their shows are like that all the time.
"They run it a bit like football - If there was a presence there on that night it might have stopped it but obviously football is a different game and they can afford to put that cost into it whereas we can't."
Boxing fan remembers 'carnage'
Boxing fan Dan Turner, from Oldbury, was one of the many that helped pack out the venue back in October as Luke Paddock took on Myron Mills.
The 21-year-old remembers the carnage that took place and admitted he was hesitant to return at first - but showed up to support professional boxer and good friend Ryan Davies who took on and beat Myles Vale.
Mr Turner said: "It is excellent now - it is great.
"Last time it did not seem like they were really bothered about security but this time it is definitely a step up.
"It will deter people from bringing the knives in and if they do they will get chucked out.
"It was mayhem [in October] - the fights up until the fight that happened were great but as soon as that last fight took place it all kicked off.
"I was worried to start with but as soon as I saw the amount of security I feel fine now."
Earlier in the week West Midlands Police superintendent Sue Parker told the Express & Star that the knife arch was as much 'an education tool' as it is a public safety tool.
She said: "People want to feel safe when they are out in Walsall.
"The police are aware of the increasing public concern around knife crime, not just in the borough but right across the country, which is why we are tackling the issue from all angles – not only detection and enforcement but also public education, undercover operations to stop the unlawful sale of knives to minors and intercepting illegal shipments of knives before they hit the streets.
"The knife arch is as much an education tool as it is a public safety tool. We want young people to realise that there is no good outcome of carrying a knife – if they do, they will be caught and the offence carries very serious consequences."
The arch will be brought into various pubs and clubs around the borough - and will also see action at certain schools and colleges across the borough as part of a wider campaign that sees the police work with local schools to raise awareness among young people about the danger of carrying knives.
Express & Star knife campaign
Its introduction comes as the Express & Star's own campaign to change the law on knife crime has gained support following a surge of violence, which has seen 21 stabbings since the start of the year, with five people losing their lives.
The petition which calls for people who are caught carrying knives to be given tougher sentences has been signed by almost 1,500 people.
- To back the campaign visit change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-knife-possession-should-have-stiffer-sentences
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