Bolton bars get rid of boxing machines to cut night time fighting in town centre
BOXING machines are being removed from bars and takeaways in Bolton — in a bid to reduce violence in the town centre.
Police have approached businesses and asked them to voluntarily remove the machines.
The boxing machines, which involve people punching a pad to see how hard they can hit the target, are legal - but police believe they "do not contribute positively to the atmosphere" in the town centre.
So far, J2, After Dark and Durty Gurty’s have all agreed to remove the machines and officers are speaking to more venues in the coming weeks.
Carol Rialas, director of J2 in Mawdsley Street, Bolton, said: “We felt the machine was in an area where groups of young lads would gather, have a drink and start punching it and then start fighting.
“It was not the perception the club wanted. We are a premier nightclub not an arcade — that’s why we decided to get rid of it last month.
“We had it for a couple of years but I said it wasn’t right for it to be there. It can be quite intimidating when people are punching something in a closed area.
“It could fire people up and then they go out to another venue.”
The machine was in the VIP area of the club.
PC Jane Wilcock, from Bolton police’s licensing and partnership team, said: “We are looking at encouraging more pubs, bars, clubs and takeaways to remove their machines as we don't feel that they make any positive contribution to the night time economy.”
PC Wilcock worked with Pat and Dave Rogers, the founders Every Action Has Consequences (EAHC), who launched the charity after their son, 24-year-old Adam Rogers, was killed by a single punch during a night out in Blackburn in July, 2009.
PC Wilcock said: “We hope to present the charity’s work at a pub watch meeting in the near future to reinforce this message.”
The charity aims to put an end to “senseless violence” by developing more responsible attitudes. They do this by showing a DVD about consequences of anti-social and violent behaviour for victims and the offenders.
PC Wilcock said police were working to reduce violence in hand with the new partnership formed earlier this year to turn the reputation of the town around.
The partnership of licensees, door staff, taxi firms, CCTV operators, Bolton Street Angels, police and Bolton Council was formed to make the town centre more family-friendly and to draw older people back in the evenings.
Asif Vali, chairman of the partnership and Bolton Taxi Company Association, said: “There have been a lot of changes to the night time economy in Bolton. I am glad licensees are adhering to the changes.
“I am not sure if it’s right or wrong to have the machines in these places. From my experience of them, they have broken down barriers as people crowd around them.
“But everybody condemns violence whether it is inside or outside a boxing ring. The town centre has improved dramatically in the past three months.”
Mr Vali, Amir Khan’s former manager, added that boxing should take place in a controlled environment.
Sixteen people have lost their lives due to alcohol-fuelled violence in the past three years across Greater Manchester.
Police figures show 23 per cent of young men aged between 18 and 25 are most likely to carry out violent crime.
Men in the same age bracket are also most likely to be a victim of violent crime.
GMP launched its own One Punch Can Kill campaign last year following the death of Royal Marine Wesley Clutterbuck, aged 19, who died after a single punch on a night out in Rochdale in June 2013.
Eden Lomax, aged 17, was jailed for life in December for the murder of Simon Mitchell in Bolton town centre in June last year.
Manchester Crown Court heard that Mr Mitchell suffered “catastrophic brain injuries” after falling and hitting his head on a concrete slab after Lomax punched him once.
He was pronounced dead at the scene in Victoria Square outside Game.
Lomax, of Northwood Crescent, Deane, had drunk cider, a quarter of a bottle of vodka and smoked cannabis before the attack.
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