Thursday, 30 Mar 2023

‘Lawless’ UK town ‘smells like Amsterdam’ and ruled by gangs ‘prepared to kill’

A councillor has labelled his own town "lawless" and said it is run by gangs who are "prepared to kill".

Walsall has been hit by a spate of violence in recent months which this weekend saw Bailey Atkinson, 20, murdered in a "targeted and vicious" attack, prompting local councillor Mike Bird to issue the worrying statement.

Cllr Bird told BirminghamLive: "Gangs are, and have been for some time in Walsall, lawless and as a result we have to liaise with the police to find out what we can do to make the streets safer.

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"It's something that has been festering for the last two or three years and rescuing our streets back from these individuals is extremely difficult."

The council leader said the attack on Atkinson will likely have left residents concerned.

"Any violence makes people very uneasy," he said. "There are meetings going on today to see what we can do.

"One issue is the night-time economy in Walsall is a dangerous place to be. It happens in other parts of the country.

"Sometimes I go into the town centre and it smells like Amsterdam."

Speaking of the gangs who operate in the Black Country town, he added: "Police have got a difficult job to do when you've got people of this calibre who are prepared to kill."

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Walsall has seen a worrying increase in the number of violent crimes over the last few years, with stabbings and shootings becoming more common.

Statistics showed that violent, sexual and drug-related offences had risen in the Walsall town centre area over the last three years, leaving residents worried.

Police presence has been stepped up in a bid to reassure locals following Atkinson's death in the early hours of Saturday morning (January 28).

Authorities are still investigating the incident, which took place at around 01.20am near an Asda supermarket.

Detectives believe Atkinson was chased before being attacked, allegedly by a group of men carrying weapons.

Atkinson was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.

A statement from his family issued by West Midlands police read: "Bailey was so loved by so many and will be missed so much."

They described him as "our kind-hearted and much-loved son, brother and grandson" before issuing a plea to the public to come forward with any information that might help officers in their investigation.

The statement said: "We request if anyone has any information, they please come forward to help the police with their inquiries to help catch the individuals who did this and took away our boy."

The incident came after two stabbings in the space of two weeks in Walsall last month.

One man, also in his 20s, was rushed to hospital after being stabbed on Cresswell Crescent on December 28. Just a fortnight earlier on December 14, another man was stabbed at Walsall bus station.

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