AN unprovoked attack on Formby beach horrified day trippers who had flocked to the area over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The beach attack was one of two serious incidents in the Formby area on Sunday.
A 16-year-old male was stabbed in an unrelated incident on nearby Victoria Road at around the same time as the beach stabbings in which two men aged 20 were attacked at around 7pm.
All three victims needed hospital treatment, but none of the injuries suffered were life threatening.
It was initially reported that the beach attacks were part of a pre-arranged fight involving an axe, but this has been dismissed by officers. It has not been confirmed what weapon was used in either attack.
A 17 year-old male from Liverpool has been arrested in connection with the second incident on suspicion of assault. He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Police are appealing for witnesses to either of the attacks to come forward should they have information.
Detective Superintendent Mark Baker said he understands both incidents will cause “considerable distress to the community in Sefton,” but added that officers are “working around the clock to identify who was responsible and bring them to justice.”
In an immediate response, police introduced a dispersal zone on Monday afternoon until Wednesday, June 2, to give officers more powers to order people to leave the beach area and not return for up to 48 hours if they suspect they are causing, or likely to cause, crime, nuisance or anti-social behaviour.
The dispersal zone included Formby beach as well as the train line towards Ainsdale and the coastal road leading up to Ainsdale beach.
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson described the incident as “appalling” and “disturbing” and he is urging anyone with information to contact police. Social media users also voiced their disgust online, with many questioning why anyone would take weapons to a beach packed with families and children.
Detective Superintendent Baker added: “The fact that three young people have been attacked in this way is truly shocking and disappointing. Continued inside
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“Our officers will be increasing patrols in the area over the coming days and weeks.”
It was an extremely busy day on Formby beach on Sunday, as people flocked to the National Trust site to enjoy the hot weather.
When emergency services were called to the scene, the area was quickly evacuated by officers and an air ambulance landed on the sand.
There was also a large police presence on nearby Victoria Road.
Inspector Graham Fisher of Merseyside Police, added: “We are well aware of the significant impacts of knife-related crime - which have led to three young men needing hospital treatment - and the worry this will cause for the vast majority of people in the area who are law-abiding members of the community looking to enjoy the beach and surrounding areas.
“The dispersal zone gives us the powers we need to deal effectively with people and I would urge anyone in the area with any information about anti-social behaviour or violent crime on the beach and dunes to contact us.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gayle Rooney said: “Our enquiries remain ongoing in relation to both incidents, which we believe were unconnected.
“We know that a lot of people travelled to get to Formby Beach on Sunday and I would continue to appeal to anyone who has any information in relation to these two incidents who haven’t already come forward to speak to us. I would also continue to ask for anyone with dashcam or mobile phone footage to check it to see if they captured anything significant.
“Local residents and beach-goers will see a continued visible police presence in and around the beach and I would ask anyone with any concerns to speak to the officers.
“These type of incidents, albeit shocking, are thankfully quite rare and I would like people to be assured that we are committed to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact @MerPolCC, 101 quoting ref. 21000350312 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.