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Wrexham nightspots could be given knife-detection wands to fight violent crime

BARS and clubs in Wrexham could be issued with metal-detecting “knife wands” in a bid to cut down on violent crime.

It follows a recent spate of high-profile incidents involving weapons in the town centre, which have caused concern in the community.

Last month, police used stop-and-search powers over the course of a single weekend as part of a “hard-line” approach against people carrying knives.

Although no weapons were recovered, a senior officer said the measures were necessary to restore public confidence.

It’s now been revealed that nightspots in the town centre could be given scanners to search customers and prevent them bringing knives into venues.

Helen Douglas, of North Wales Police, said a bid had been made for money to buy the equipment via the UK Government’s Safer Streets fund.

Speaking at a Wrexham Council meeting held yesterday (Wednesday, October 13), she said: “The reason for us applying for the funding is around the work we can do with the night-time economy.

“We’re investing in increased public protection equipment, including some wands that they can use on licensed premises on the doors to scan people, so we’re getting safety coming into and out of premises.

“(It will) help us with our intelligence to understand if somebody is carrying any weapons and that we can deal with it there and then.

“There’s lots of really innovative and creative details under Safer Streets, which I’m hoping will bring mitigation to some of the risks and challenges we’re seeing with the night-time economy at the moment.”

The police force previously said a “significant number” of people were stopped under stop-and-search powers in September.

Chief Inspector Douglas said the lack of weapons found indicated there was not a widespread culture of knife-carrying in the town.

However, she said officers shared the concerns raised by residents and warned that the use of weapons could have “serious consequences”.

It came after Cllr Nigel Williams told the local authority’s crime and disorder scrutiny committee he had been approached by several people who were worried about the recent incidents.

The Gwenfro ward representative said: “I know the police have recently come out and said there isn’t a knife culture in Wrexham, especially after the last incident where there were more prolific stop-and-searches over a weekend.

“But there have been three or four serious knife incidents that I’m aware of over the summer period. At least one fatality is included in that as well.

“What do you base it on saying that there is no problem with knife crime?

“What people on the street are saying to me is they are concerned about an increase in knife crime at the moment, especially over the last four or five months.”

Responding to his comments, Chief Inspector Douglas said members of the Wrexham Community Safety Partnership, including police, the council and the Probation Service, were committed to reducing knife crime.

She said: “I share your concerns absolutely and those of the community because it’s serious violence and there’s serious consequences with knife crime.

“Where we had the incidents and we invoked our powers in the town centre, what it did actually tell us is there isn’t huge evidence of people randomly carrying knives out of those people we searched.

“I’m not saying that there aren’t people in the community carrying knives, but it’s about how we can work together to understand who they may be and work as a partnership to try and reduce the risks around it.”

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