Pubs to be rated by police

ESSEX Police and nightspot owners are joining forces in a bid to stamp out drink and drug-related anti-social activities in the county's town centres.A new accreditation scheme - much like the AA 5 star scheme for hotels - will be launched on Wednesday to help recognise responsible management.

By Sharon Asplin

ESSEX Police and nightspot owners are joining forces in a bid to stamp out drink and drug-related anti-social activities in the county's town centres.

A new accreditation scheme - much like the AA 5 star scheme for hotels - will be launched on Wednesday to help recognise responsible management.

However, with the availability of longer hours' drinking, there has been widespread concern about the rising tide of anti-social behaviour and there are fears the scheme, however laudable, will do little to tackle it.


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Police claim accreditation will help customers make informed choices about where they wish to spend their time and money but more importantly allow venues to operate “best practice” and demonstrate they are more responsible than recent adverse publicity has implied.

Sgt Nigel Dermott, licensing project and alcohol co-ordinator, said: “Many problems are seen to be linked with clubs, bars and pubs. Spreading best practice, by giving staff proper training and creating a safe working environment through having policies that are visibly being operated can make all the difference.”

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For example, under The Safer Bars Accreditation scheme, pubs and clubs will be asked to ensure taxi and night bus details are advertised prominently to encourage customers not to loiter and cause a nuisance on the way home.

Sgt Dermott added: “Once an establishment has achieved the award, the visual display will help promote the more responsible operators, of which we know there are many.”

The Hospital Arms in Crouch Street, Colchester, was involved in the original pilot scheme and manager Carole Barrass, also a member of PubWatch, admitted her pub had made changes in the light of it.

“Although we do not have trouble here we are now aware of what we would do just in case. People with alcohol are unpredictable and I would recommend people to give it a go if only because it makes you think of the policies and practices you have in place to deal with potential problems.

“It is not just about your own premises - we are all part and parcel of the licensed community in Colchester.”

She expects being able to advertise the accreditation will help attract extra customers, especially women and visitors to the town.

However, Henry Spyvee, a Colchester borough councillor whose Castle ward covers Colchester town centre, feared the initiative scheme will do little to solve problems at night.

“What we should do is make sure clubs and pubs stick to their licensing commitments and, if they don't, take their licences away, even if only temporarily - that's really the only thing that's going to make a difference,” he said.

Jean Blowers, who helps compile reports of problems for the Priory Street area Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, also remains to be convinced the scheme will help.

She said: “I would not have thought this accreditation scheme will make a scrap of difference as you can't do anything about the people who are coming away from the premises tipsy. Their behaviour goes beyond 'just high spirits', it is plain bad manners - they think having a drink is an excuse to behave like twits and hooligans.”

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