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The murder of Cody Fisher, what can we learn?

Cody Fisher, 23, was fatally stabbed on his birthday, 26 December 2022 on the dancefloor of Crane nightclub in Digbeth while he was on a night out with his girlfriend and friends. 

Blame for this horrific murder falls squarely those convicted of it. But, there was a duty of care to Mr Fisher from the licensing authority, venue and the security team. What can be learned in the aftermath of this incident?

According to the CPS. On the night, Gordon and Carpenter (the attackers) discussed smuggling a knife into Crane and wearing masks to conceal their identities.

**What went wrong? How did the knife get into the venue? What was the search policy? Was it followed?** According to the license issued to Crane we obtained through Birmingham city council, “_The premises licence holder will supply a risk assessment for all externally promoted events held at the premises, to include all security provision… Risk assessments will include search policies and a security deployment plan to reflect the risk of the event_.” It fell to the venue to discuss with security and create a plan to submit to the relevant authorities.

West Midlands Police themselves have commented that any control measures the premises may have had have been found ineffective. A thorough risk assessment of the venue might have factored in likely hazards at the scene. Indeed Digbeth, and the rest of areas policed by West Midlands Police have the highest rate of knife crime in England, including London.

The standard of search has been criticised across the board – and was cited main factor in Crane’s closure thereafter. The attackers discussed search arrangements at the venue over snapchat, Carpenter messaging Gordon “_Can I get a shank in there_?”. Gordon responded: “_not even a metal detector_”. Indeed, while metal-detecting wands were used on some people, others simply faced a pat-down, Gordon’s bag was not searched at all. Door searches were allegedly inconsistent or haphazard, police reported a scene of “chaos and evidence of drug use” with “_hundreds of small bags and nitrous oxide canisters all over the dancefloor_”.

As for the actions of Doorstaff responding to the incident, Police reports state staff at the venue were “_wandering around all over the place_” as though they were “_oblivious to what is happening_”, the sergeant claimed, adding: “_They started to clean the dancefloor further down from where the deceased was_. Officers shouted at them to stop.”

Referring to footage captured on police body-worn cameras: “_While officers are doing CPR, you can see people are just wandering around the scene freely. As soon as we had more officers on scene they were removed, and the whole dancefloor was cordoned off_.”

Superintendent Sally Simpson concluded that staff seemingly had no idea of how to manage the situation or preserve the scene, again pointing towards lack or poor control measures and training.

Gordon and Carpenter were proven to have had the intent to kill, and eagerly sought an opportunity to kill Cody Fisher. Whether they would have done so on another night had their attempt failed is difficult to say. I don’t know enough to say whether the actions or omissions of Doorstaff or the Venue have left them with blood on their hands – but it shouldn’t have been so easy for Carpenter and Gordon to kill Cody Fisher.

Whether more thorough search, widespread use of search PPE would have found the knife, or deterred the attackers from entering – is anyone’s guess.

Still, why were full body searches and metal detectors not utilised?

Perhaps Birmingham’s license authorities bear some blame. They didn’t exactly spell out in detail what was expected in the way of security doctrine or search presence. In a bizarre note, they require “_Each individual assigned to carrying out a security activity must be licensed by the **Security Industry Agency**_” An agency, which by the way – does not exist.

What about the venue itself? Crane Nightclub, began operating on 15 October after being granted a licence in June. Within three months the venue faced a summary review and closure after the murder. With only three months of experience, going into one of the most demanding calendar periods of UK nightlife, they may have been caught unprepared and unwilling to fit the bill expensive investments into the security plan.

What about the failings of the security team? A total of 26 security from K&S services were assigned to the venue that night. It appears they were understaffed, poorly trained, equipped and managed. Whether they diverged from their assignment instructions or not cannot be known at this stage. But, is it also possible they were working for a client who wanted to cut corners where they thought they could get away with it?

Whether more thorough search, widespread use of search PPE would have found the knife, or deterred the attackers from entering – is anyone’s guess.

The only lesson to be learned here is that the cost of complacency can be the lives of those in our care. That both we and our clients need to seek to actually address the hazards at work, and not just conduct lip service or accept sub-standard practice.

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