Sunday, 11 April 2010

Town Centre Violence

I have just spent the weekend supporting the regular response officers. Every weekend officers from departments all over the county work a Friday and Saturday night to help deal with the additional calls that largely come about because of excessive drinking. It is fair to say that some of my colleagues don't like this and try to avoid it. Personally, I feel we all need to do our bit and help out.

I worked shifts in a town centre for many years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a constant battle between the licensed premises and the police. We had our irresponsible pubs who allowed underage drinkers and drunkenness and they got visited every Friday and Saturday. I made it clear to the licensees that if they were not prepared to act responsibly I would control their premises and they would be prosecuted if they didn't start acting responsibly. I saw a number of licensees off as they didn't listen to the advice.

Most licensees are managers or tenants and are under pressure to meet targets. I can see why it is tempting to sell to kids, drunks etc. I supported extended opening hours and I hoped that this might mean we adopted a more Continental approach to drinking. Outside our town centres, this has happened to a large extent. Successful pubs have turned to selling food to survive. Those that don't make this transition are closing in their droves as the recession, smoking ban and drinking (at home) habits change.

This weekend I patrolled the town centre and visited a number of our large modern pubs. I was sad to see that here the mentality still seems to be, pack as many people in as you can, sell as much drink as you can and let the police pick up the pieces. If you visit these large town centre pubs during the week you will see tables and chairs laid out, but on Fridays and Saturdays the pubs clear away all the tables and chairs and play loud music. You end up with hundreds of drinkers stood around. They cannot have a conversation because the music is too loud and so they just drink. There are nowhere near enough staff working to monitor who is drunk and shouldn't have any more.

The results of all this are that I saw people throwing up in the street, there were four fights in pubs, five fights over taxi's and dozens of drunken idiots wandering around shouting and swearing. We also found one young woman semi conscious in a car park because she was so drunk and who required to go to hospital. Young woman in this state are so vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. There were 18 arrests on Friday and 13 on Saturday linked to drunken behaviour.

I am generally against introducing more and more legislation to control behaviour. We have seen too much of this over the last 20 years. It occurs to me though that where town centre drunkenness is problematic an area could be declared as such and all licensees required to serve alcohol only to people sat at tables. This might get us back to the situation we want to be in. People sat in pubs having conversation rather than standing around drinking and listening to deafening music. Drinks would be more expensive as less would be sold, but profit margins maintained.


  1. I'd support your plan. I've often wondered if the very act of standing up, being barged about by the crowd and having to shout your conversation to the person stood next to you over the loud music was responsible for increasing people's aggression, before alcohol is even factored in...

  2. People sat in pubs having conversation rather than standing around drinking and listening to deafening music.

    A sane and sensible idea, which I for one would enjoy, but it'll never happen.

    The drinking barn operators know that people who can't hear themselves speak drink faster. Loud music, bright lights, and crowded standing room only have been industry practice in town centres for at least a century now (late-Victorian gin palaces were the prototype).

    All the money to be made from packing in the punters means that civilised drinkers, cabbies, and the poor bloody copper get the manky end of the stick every weekend.

  3. New Zealand have an interesting idea. The numbers might have changed since I was last there, but serving a drunk customer in a bar or restaurant attracts a $2500 fine for the server, and a $10000 fine for the owner.

  4. Something needs to be done now about this madness. A few years ago I attended a very nice evening at the yacht club in Swansea. On the way back to our hotel we had to walk along 'bar' street. This is the street where seemingly every 4th or 5th premises was a bar. Old banks that had been converted to drinking holes. I have never seen so much drunken foolery in all my life. It was more than a little bit intimidating to walk through the large crowds of very drunk people gathered outside these premises. I had been warned by a local as to what it would be like but the reality was much worse than I had been lead to believe.

  5. XX I am generally against introducing more and more legislation to control behaviour.XX

    You do not NEED more. Start feeling collars for D+D/D+I, (IF those offences still exist).

    Shove them 15 and 20 to a cell. LET them puke and pisss all over each other. It may teach them a lesson, as they have to walk home on Saturday/Sunday morning, covered in other peoples Ex drink. With a court case to go.

  6. Furor, I wish it was that easy. When I joined the police you arrested a drunk and took them back to the cells. You were out on the street 20 minutes later ready for the next one. On a Friday and Saturday night it was not uncommon for cells to have three or four prisoners in. The drunks were charged and went to Court on Monday morning and got hammered by the Magistrates.
    Nowadays, if you arrest a drunk, you are off the street for two hours doing the paperwork leaving the streets bereft of coppers. Drunk prisoners can't be put more than one in each cell in case they kill each other and we get sued. In the morning they are released and given a fixed penalty notice for £80. No Court.
    So I think tackling the problem in the manner suggested is the only way forward.

  7. Lex Ferenda. I know. I was there, done it, got the T-shirt. Bruche PTC. S-Class 79.

    Later went to the R.M.P. Now doing M.P with the German navy.

    So what happened?

  8. Furor, don't know when you left but the biggest changes were:
    The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1986,
    The Crown Prosecution Service (1986),
    The Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996,
    Human Rights Act 1998,
    Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000,
    Police and Crime Act 2009.

    I could go on, there were more. All of these meant more bureaucracy, more accountability, hours of form filling before you can do anything and after you do anything.
    All I see is risk aversion to enable targets to be met and to avoid scrutiny and potential litigation. Significantly more than the increase in police officer numbers over the last twenty years have been made impotent by the raft of legislation, accountability and bean counting that has been imposed on us. All this talk about reducing bureaucracy has come to nothing as no-one has the metal to call a halt to this nonsense.

  9. I left in 1981, to joint the RMP, because the paper work in the civy police was at ridiculous levels....Hmmm.

    I suppose now, they would seem to be "the good old days".

  10. There is an easy solution to public drunkenness where people have had so much to drink they put themselves or others at risk, actually enforcing the law as it stands.

    Section 141 of the Licensing Act 2003 make the "Sale of alcohol to a person who is drunk" a criminal offence, allowing for the arrest of the bar staff meaning the bar could be closed.

    Section 142 of the same makes "Obtaining alcohol for a person who is drunk" an offence allowing forthe arrest for anyone buying alcohol for a person who is drunk (which could be interpreted to include someone who is drunk buying a drink for themselves).

    Then there is Section 1 of the Licensing Act 1902 which allows for the "Apprehension of person found drunk and incapable in public place" which specifically includes "in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises"

    Enforce those three laws and you will clear up the problem of public drunkenness and the associated violence in a jiffy .we might need some big jails to use as drunk tanks initially but one busy weekend night and you could meet your annual targets for detections.

  11. Enforce those three laws

    But if the prisons are full of drunks, where do the Government put the 90 year old Grannies that can not afford to pay their T.V licence?

  12. Hello from Ukraine !

    You offer the sensible idea, as for me.

    I will say you that our people here like a Vodka, or 40, but in 27 years I do not ever see any of our girls laying in street wit legs invitingly open, as your foto, I was in a shock to look this.

    Anyway, sincerely to you.


  13. marinademchuck said...

    Hello from Ukraine !

    You offer the sensible idea, as for me.

    I will say you that our people here like a Vodka, or 40, but in 27 years I do not ever see any of our girls laying in street wit legs invitingly open, as your foto, I was in a shock to look this.

    Anyway, sincerely to you.


    Marina. To be fair. It is not a "normal" picture. The girl/Woman, I am SURE, had no intention to be seen as she is in the photo.

    The drink, and the ability to control it, is the problem. NOT the morals of the person in question.

    The reaction of a normal person, would be to "cover her up" NOT take a photograph of her.

    It DOES, however, serve a purpose. As a "wake up call" to others that would go out, and get into such a state.

    I only hope that she, and others, can learn from it.

    For any one to see the photograph as in any way "errotic" ( wit legs invitingly open ) sais more about the viewer than it does about the victim.

  14. more
    read this in USA.
    Have Brits no shame
    google cardif drink wjs
    U.K. Drinking Problem Gets Political

  15. I disgree, Furor, much as I agree with your overall sentiments; the picture is indeed "normal2 in the sense that it is a typical example of the disgraceful binge-drinking "culture" that exists in most British cities and towns these days, and the associated violence and other crime. Most town centres are now no-go areas on a Friday or Saturday for anyone over 35 who isn't looking for a fight.

  16. Yeah, well don't forget that some of us like to get pissed on a weekend, and then quietly go home without causing trouble. In fact, that's the majority- you just don't see us because we aren't causing mayhem. So ease up on the blanket banning of everything eh? There's no law saying I can't get shit-faced, just so long as I behave myself.
    Agreed, many people get too drunk and cause a problem. But they hardly cause as much problem for policing as bloody football matches do every weekend, and no-one is saying lets close them down/ban them if their supporters are rowdy.