Pledge to crack down on thugs

King Street, Wigan

King Street, Wigan

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ORGANISERS of a new scheme aimed at promoting the responsible management of Wigan’s licensed premises have told of their shock and sorrow after violence in King Street left one man dead and another seriously injured.

Michael Warhurst, 60, was fatally injured after an early hours confrontation outside a nightclub in the early hours of last Monday. He died two days later from a serious head injuy and a 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and bailed by police pending further inquies.

The previous Saturday evening police arrested two 26-year-old men on suspicion of wounding with intent after 32-year-old Brent Croft was attacked inside the Revolution Bar. They too have been bailed by police as the victim, who was initially on the critical list, makes a gradual recovery.

It was with unpleasant irony that the incidents should happen just days before the winners’ ceremony of the new Best Bar None scheme which rewards licensed premises for keeping the peace, and after three years of falling town centre violent crime.

Wigan Police’s Supt Andrea Jones said today: “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 of responsible management of licensed premises. But that doesn’t mean we can be complacent when it comes to preventing alcohol-related crime and disorder.”

Supporters of the Best Bar None national accreditation and award scheme include the police,council and licensed members of the Pub and Club Watch.

Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards Manager at Wigan Council said: “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.”

Supt Jones added: “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.”