Publicans urged not to panic after raids

A PUBLICANS' group has urged its members not to panic after a "terrible spate" of violence against landlords and staff in Essex pubs.Dave Clayton, chairman of the Colchester branch of the Licensed Victuallers Association (LVA), was speaking after five pubs in north and mid Essex were robbed in recent weeks, in raids police believe could be linked.

A PUBLICANS' group has urged its members not to panic after a "terrible spate" of violence against landlords and staff in Essex pubs.

Dave Clayton, chairman of the Colchester branch of the Licensed Victuallers Association (LVA), was speaking after five pubs in north and mid Essex were robbed in recent weeks, in raids police believe could be linked.

Mr Clayton, who is landlord of The Spinnaker on Hythe Quay, Colchester, said while he did not want to get the latest raids out of proportion, his association was there to provide help and advice to any landlord or lady who was worried about safety in the wake of the attacks.

He said: "We always tell our members to be vigilant on these sort of matters but nobody thinks it will happen to them. I am lucky and have never been a victim but, personally, if someone held a knife or gun to my throat I would say 'take the money' – I'm no hero."

Mr Clayton pointed out that many pubs were vulnerable, especially isolated "roadhouse" hostelries offering food, as they kept large sums of money on their premises. Very often they were targeted in official opening hours so intruder alarms had not been activated.

He said: "I have a Doberman who has the run of the place in the evenings and I think most people in the pub trade take as many precautions as they can, but you do not want your customers to see you are turning the place into a fortress and think something could happen.

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"You do not think someone will come in wielding a knife at you but there has been a terrible spate of them and it does put you on your guard – you just do not know who will come through the door."

He said the LVA branch, which worked closely with police, could offer advice on a range of matters, including security.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We would caution licensees to be mindful of security and remind them not to allow anybody into private areas whose identities they are not totally happy with."

In the latest robbery at St Osyth, a knife-wielding raider stole several thousand pounds just after 8.15am on Mondayat the Seagull Public house in Beach Road. He claimed he was making a delivery, then threatened a female staff member and tied her up, before he escaped.

Robbers struck at the Three Horseshoes, The Tye, East Hanningfield, just after midnight on Monday. They forced the owner to open the safe and snatched the cash contents. The raiders left the money and the knives on the floor as they fled.

On September 28 at about 10.15pm, balaclava-clad robbers walked through the doors of the empty Rose and Crown pub in Thorpe-le-Soken and forced a barman to the floor and held a 12-inch knife to his throat until landlady Helen Innes came downstairs to lock up. The robbers threatened her with the knife and then fled with £450.

On September 22, at 11.45pm, around £10,000 in cash and £30,000 worth of jewellery were stolen by knife-wielding robbers who burst into The Lion in Mersea Road, Langenhoe and forced the manager, his wife and two of their friends to the floor.

On August 25, armed raiders tied up Mark Bedlow, manager of the Swan Inn at Chappel, took his safe keys and fled with several thousand pounds.

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