Wed, 16 Oct 2019
SCHOOLS have warned parents that youngsters may be plotting knife violence during a “stab night” at the Michaelmas Fair in Newbury.
And police have confirmed they are taking the reports seriously.
One letter states: “Dear parents and carers; I am writing to you in order to share information I have recently received from another school, whose parents are concerned about some of the things they have been told by their children about the [Michaelmas] fair taking place in Newbury between October 16 and 19.
“Although the majority of teenagers going to the fair do so to have fun, it seems that some young people are planning to have what they call a ‘stab night’, when students from around West Berkshire plan to confront other groups of students in order to initiate fights.”
It adds: “I have no reason to believe that any students from [our school] are intending to take part in this extremely concerning event, and indeed have no certain evidence that the event is actually going to happen in reality.
“However, I wanted to make you aware in order to inform your decisions about whether or not to allow your children to visit the fair.”
The letters have been sent out to a number of schools, including The Downs in Compton and John O’Gaunt in Hungerford.
Police have authorised a Section 60 order, which temporarily allows officers greater powers to stop and search people for items connected with violence, in a defined location.
The order came into effect this afternoon and will be in place until 2am on Thursday, covering an area of Newbury, including the town centre, Victoria Park, Northcroft Park and Goldwell Park.
West Berkshire Local Policing Area commander Supt Nick John told the Newbury Weekly News: “Following engagement with local schools, partners and parents, we are aware of the rumours circulating regarding fights at the Michaelmas Fair.
“We are taking these threats seriously and officers are continuing to make a number of enquiries into the credibility of these rumours.
“As a large local event, a policing presence was always planned for the Michaelmas Fair.”
He added: “The local community should be reassured rather than alarmed by the police presence.
“We will continue to work with schools, partners and parents to ensure the safeguarding of those attending the fair as well as providing the support should any incidents take place.
“Please feel free to speak to officers out and about with concerns that you have as they are there to reassure as well as keep the streets safe.”
In 2016, Trinity School in Newbury sent a letter to parents warning of fears that so-called ‘killer clowns’ would be targetting children at the historic fair, which is organised by the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain.
There had been reports across the UK of people dressing in horrifying clown costumes and scaring unsuspecting people.
However they failed to materialise at the fair, which dates back to the 17th century, when shepherds and maids turned up to seek work in the town.