Knife arch security in place for boxing bout after Reagan Asbury's death
A knife arch is to be used for the first time at a Black Country venue where a teenager was attacked and later died.
The airport security-style scanner will eventually be rolled out to pubs and clubs across Walsall, but is first being used at Walsall Town Hall this weekend for a boxing match.
It was at the town hall during a night of boxing where Reagan Asbury was stabbed in October last year.
Nineteen-year-old Reagan suffered a wound to his neck and died in hospital.
Tyrone Andrew, 21, of St Helen’s Street, Derby, will stand trial for Regan’s murder later this year.
The new knife arch 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.
The security screening device was officially launched by the council and the police, in conjunction with community partners Walsall Pubwatch, yesterday.
West Midlands Police superintendent Sue Parker 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.
“We want them to know that if they see someone with a knife, they need to tell someone. Education and support from parents and communities are key factors in stopping our young people even thinking of heading out with a knife.”
Police patrols have been stepped up on the streets of the town at weekends and officers can now stop and search anyone with reasonable grounds for suspicion.
A dispersal order is also in place, allowing officers to move on groups believed to be involved with anti-social behaviour throughout the weekend.
It comes after a spate of fatal stabbings in recent months.
Nineteen-year-old student Rezwan Ali was knifed to death at a house party, while eight-year-old Mylee Billingham died after being stabbed at a home in Brownhills. James Brindley was murdered in Aldridge last June.
The knife arch will first be installed at the town hall on Saturday for the upcoming boxing event.
It will operate in the same way as an airport security scanner and people will be required to walk through the arch before being granted entry to a given venue.
This increased security measure will be implemented at various pubs and clubs around the borough and will be operated by both police officers and venue security staff.
Councillor Ian Shires, portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture added: “The knife arch sends a strong message that, as a community, we do not accept any behaviour that seeks to undermine the rights of others to feel safe.
“Raising awareness and tackling issues associated with knives is a challenge for everyone and one of a number of approaches we are developing to embed and deliver our Cohesion and Integration Strategy agreed at Council in November 2017.
“Working with our partners to ensure safe communities is a key priority for the Council, and anything that helps to make residents feel safe and part of a unified and prospering community will support this.
“Walsall Council, West Midlands Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner are committed to working together along with our partners in the community to promote social cohesion.
“We have a long history of people of all ages from diverse backgrounds living in harmony in Walsall, and we’re proud of our town. We want people to feel reassured that we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour in Walsall.”
The arch will also be taken to 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.
The Express & Star has launched a campaign to change the law on knife crime following the surge of violence, which has seen 21 stabbings since the start of the year, with five people losing their lives.
So far, a petition calling 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