Move by mayor follows 37,000-strong petition in wake of Sam Cook's death

KNIFE wands have been handed out to 100 bars and clubs in Liverpool as the city attempts to crack down on people taking blades and other weapons with them on a night out.

Ahead of a busy New Year period, 100 venues with late licenses based in Mathew Street and the Ropewalks area - which includes Concert Square, Slater Street and Bold Street - have received the specialist equipment, free of charge, enabling them to search customers in order to help detect anyone who may be carrying a knife.

The devices have been funded by Mayor Joe Anderson in the wake of the death of 21-year-old Sam Cook following an incident at the Empire Club on Seel Street in October. The venue has since had its premises license revoked and a man has been charged with murder.

Following Sam's death, 37,000 people signed an online petition addressed to the mayor, calling for knife arches at club entrances. Campaigners have hailed news of the wands as a victory. 

The mayor said: “Since the tragic death of Sam, we have been working closely with Merseyside Police as well as bars and clubs in the city centre to look at ways we can tackle this issue and prevent anything as senseless as this happening again.

“We are sending out the message that carrying and using knives is totally and utterly unacceptable and we hope by introducing these wands it will act as a deterrent, and as a result reassure people planning to enjoy a night out here."

Stuart Moore from the Baa Bar, Inspector Stephen Hardy from Merseyside Police and Councillor Liz Parsons, Liverpool City Council’s Mayoral Lead for Community Safety, show off the knife wands at a media photo opportunity

According to Liverpool city council, statistics show that less than two percent of recorded violent incidents where someone was injured by a bladed weapon over the last year happened in bars and clubs in the city centre. Nevertheless there have been many more recorded on the streets in the vicinities of venues, frequently late at night.

Anderson carried on: “It’s important to stress that Liverpool city centre is one of the safest in the country and we have Purple Flag status which is a national award recognising a safe, clean and well-managed city centre and night time economy.” 

Merseyside Local Policing Superintendent Mark Wiggins hailed the move as "exactly the type of strong partnership work which we hope will help eradicate knife crime in Merseyside".

“Knives are dangerous and there is no place for them on the streets of Merseyside. Using a knife can have devastating consequences, as we have seen recently and I hope that by constantly stressing the dangers of knife crime we are getting the message across, particularly to our young people. I would urge people to educate themselves, speak to their children and family members and prevent the repeat of any such tragedies. 

Stuart Moore, of the Baabar on Fleet Street,  where a photo opp was held today to showcase the wands, said: “We see the issuing of knife wands as a very positive step and I would urge all responsible operators in the city to support this initiative, and ensure that there are processes in place to reduce and hopefully eradicate the possession and use of knives in our premises.”