Multiple stabbings in Sheffield 'are a wake-up call' over city's licensing policy

Police at Barker's Pool following multiple stabbings at the weekend
Police at Barker's Pool following multiple stabbings at the weekend
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A weekend of violence during which six men were stabbed in Sheffield city centre has been described as a 'wake-up call' for licensing chiefs.

Four men were knifed during attacks in Cambridge Street and Carver Street during the early hours of Saturday and another two sustained stab wounds at the Area nightclub on Burgess Street, close to Barker's Pool the following morning.

Residents have previously called for restrictions on off-licences and other businesses selling alcohol in the area, to reduce booze-fuelled crime and disorder.

Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group (SCCRAG) today called on Sheffield Council to introduce tighter controls in the wake of the latest attacks.

"Sheffield City Council must take a hard look at its Licensing policy. SCCRAG has been critical of the weak control being exercised by the council on opening times for pubs, clubs and off-licences," said the group's chairman Peter Sephton.

"These unfortunate incidents usually take place in the early hours of the morning, when premises have been licensed to open until 6am and some people have had too much time to drink too much alcohol.

"SCCRAG has been pressing for three years to get a cumulative impact policy adopted for parts of the city centre, but the council licensing committee continues to drag its feet.

"It is unfortunate if an incident like this leads to a wake-up call for our complacent Council, but a university city with 20,000 residents living in the centre needs much stronger control over the number of outlets and how long they can stay open."

The Star reported in April how the group wanted a 'cumulative impact policy' to be introduced for West Street, making it easier for councillors to stop new off-licences, pubs, clubs and other licensed premises opening in the area.

Police have already vowed to work with licencees following the latest unrest to ensure they take responsibility for preventing violence in and around their premises.

They have also applied to close the Area nightclub.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment at Sheffield Council, said: "We are appalled to hear of the violent incidents that took place at the weekend in the city centre. Our thoughts go out to those hurt in the stabbings.

"The police have arrested a number of individuals for attempted murder and public order offences and are continuing their investigations. In these circumstances it would not be appropriate for us to make any comment or have a discussion on what actions needs to be taken to prevent future attacks.

"We will be speaking to the police to find out what happened and the causes of the violence.

"In the meantime we would urge anyone who has any information that might help the investigation to contact the police."