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Community safety chiefs condemn town centre violence
Friday 12th October, 2012

Organisers of a new scheme aimed at promoting the responsible management of licensed premises in Wigan have expressed their shock and sorrow following recent tragic incidents on King Street which left one man dead and another seriously injured.

Supt Andrea Jones of Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Division, says:
“Recent tragic events on King Street are cause for great concern to all the partners who work hard to make our town centre safe for innocent revellers and our thoughts are with the victims and their families.

“Given the rarity of serious incidents of violent crime in Wigan town centre, it is clear that many bars, pubs and clubs already adhere to the highest standards when it comes to the responsible management of licensed premises. But that doesn’t mean we can be complacent when it comes to preventing alcohol-related crime and disorder."

A 60 year old man who suffered critical head injuries during a night out in Wigan in the early hours of Monday morning died in hospital on Wednesday. It is believed Michael John Warhurst, of Scott Lane, Wigan, hit his head on the pavement on King Street.

On Saturday night, a 32 year old man was admitted to hospital with serious head injuries after being subjected to an assault in the Revolution bar. He remains in a stable but critical condition.

Supporters of Best Bar None – a national accreditation and award scheme which aims to improve community safety in the night time economy – include Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council and licensed members of the Pub and Club Watch.

Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards Manager at Wigan Council says:
“Wigan town centre enjoys a thriving night time economy, with people travelling from right across the region to visit popular haunts on King Street which can attract up to 20,000 revellers on a typical weekend night.

“Unfortunately, we do encounter some alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder but serious incidents of this nature are thankfully exceptional. This is in no small part due to the way licensed premises and agencies work together. The events of last weekend demonstrate just how important it is for agencies to work proactively with licensed premises on community safety initiatives such as Best Bar None.”

Wigan town centre is the latest addition to the Best Bar None scheme, which was first piloted in Manchester in 2003. Currently, more than 100 schemes have been introduced in town centres across the UK.

An awards ceremony which recognises the licensed premises which demonstrate exceptional standards when it comes to community safety is due to take place next week and a minute’s silence will be observed for the victims of last weekend’s incidents.

To qualify for Best Bar None accreditation, pubs, bars and clubs are required to meet certain standards in operational management, particularly in relation to measures designed to reduce crime and disorder, prevent public nuisance, promote public safety, protect children from harm and raise awareness around alcohol consumption.

There has been a notable reduction in crime in our town centres over the past 3 years. Wigan town centre has seen a reduction in violent crime incidents and alcohol-related incidents during this period.

Supt Andrea Jones adds: “Wigan still has one of the safest town centres in Greater Manchester, not least due to the way the area is policed and our shared partnership approach with council and business partners in addressing crime reduction.

“However, we are aware that some issues persist. But our message is simple to potential trouble-makers. Partners adhere to a 'zero tolerance' policy so if you come to Wigan and commit crime, you will be identified, you will be arrested and you will face the consequences.

“I commend the swift actions of staff at the Revolution Bar on Saturday night in supporting the victim, evacuating the premises and protecting the crime scene. They showed great professionalism in remaining calm and collected during what can only be described as a highly charged and stressful incident."

The incidents on King Street have provoked condemnation from local people with the strength of public feeling reflected on various social media web sites.

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