Saturday, 15 October 2011

Town Centre Violence

I have been away and visited a number of countries where the attitude to alcohol is far different from that at home. I have touched on this subject before and it seems obvious to me that this is one area where the police and local authorities are failing miserably in applying the law.

If you take my home town, during the week you will see fairly quiet town centre pubs. The punters are generally sitting at tables. Some are eating. They are all generally served at the bar. Come the weekend however, tables and chairs are removed and loud music is played. Service is still at the bar. There is almost no monitoring of who has had too much to drink. The most sober of a group of friends can go and buy a round of drinks and no one has a clue how drunk the others are. Packed pubs and loud music means conversation is impossible and so punters just sup their drinks. No one monitors consumption effectively. The whole philosophy is to sell as much cheap alcohol as possible.

The result of all this is that drunks pour out of the pubs, they are sick in the street, they threaten one another and fight, they need medical attention and get arrested and we just put up with this every week. The demands these pubs place on the police, ambulance, hospitals and other services is outrageous.

In many countries abroad you cannot buy alcohol at a bar. You go in and sit down and you are served. The premises are not packed, music is not deafening and the waiting staff can monitor carefully how much everyone has had to drink. Because it is not being thrown over the bar in huge quantities, alcohol is more expensive and so it is drunk more moderately.

It seems obvious to me that police and councils in any area where town centre violence is a problem, should be applying conditions to licenses that all alcohol is served to persons seated at tables. If grounds are needed all the police need to do is video the exit of patrons at weekends. The sight of drunken men and women falling out of pubs, vomiting and being violent and aggressive should be more than enough to justify the conditions being  imposed.

I suggested this some time ago to my superiors and my colleague in charge of town centre policing and it has been ignored. I need to pursue this and push it forward. I would be interested if anyone else has tried anything similar elsewhere in the country.


  1. Anyone got any actual reliable figures on drunk related problems? From what I've read over the years the health related impact of increased drinking has been enormous, whereas the violence and disruption has been ignored and councils continue to hand out licences for vertical drinking establishments.
    What this does is condemn the police to run around from pillar to post dealing with incidents, being responsive instead of proactive, whereas in my dads day 10 to 30 years ago, from what he has said over the years, it was possible to prevent hassle by being outside the pubs at chucking out time being a visible presence, which isn't possible if you're two streets over snowed under by the large number of drunks.

  2. Good post. Living up to your monicker.

    I fear too much money behind the pub industry who would fight such a move, but then again if you could do it without hitting their profits too much and they all had to do it. Maybe, just maybe.

  3. Guthrie - I think you have to remember that in your dads day the pubs shut at 1030 and later 1100 p.m. Nightclubs had to serve dinners and you couldn't get in without a jacket and tie.

    The licensing trade has made a mockery of the licensing laws. For example, in a nightclub alcohol had to be served as ancillary to music, dancing and substantial refreshment. This has been completely abused. In the nightclubs in my town if you asked for something to eat I doubt if they could provide it.

    Now we have 24 hour licensing. The hope was that this would change the drinking culture in this country. The licensing trade argued that by shutting pubs at 1100 p.m. we were encouraging people to drink heavily so as to drink more before closing. The argument was that if hours were extended people would drink the same amount over a longer period. This has failed miserably. The licensing trade has just thrown more and more drink at people and the police have been stretched further by having to put significant resources into town centres all night.

    I believe we have it in our power to address this but we are just not doing it. We have just accepted that every weekend we have to put out more and more resources to pick up the pieces of the irresponsble licensing trade.

  4. Chimpanzee_of_doom_say_NO!!!23 October, 2011 17:35

    My limited understanding of this situation is that the councils try to impose restrictions on the establishing, placement or behaviour of these drinking holes and the drinks companies hurl money at legal teams to oppose everything. The council, reluctant too hurl TOO much taxpayers dosh at their own legal teams, eventually capitulate because the deep pockets of the drink companies pay their teams to keep at it for longer. (And strangely familiar to the tactic employed by those twinkly eyed rogues down at Dale Farm, by the way). It's a war of attrition that the councils are doomed to lose.

    So perhaps it needs a change in the law or, high-profile prosecutions of managers / bar staff on the ground along with stiff punishments to encourage others, with no response to the inevitable sob stories. Or perhaps we'll just carry on our path to be THE most pathetic, alcoholic, self-pitying society on Gods green earth. Oh, hang on, that's us already.

  5. Here in Brazil we have various "crazy" too. Sorry me the text but i dont speak englis...

    please view this movie:

    Police of City Salvador/Bahia/Brasil in Action (carnaval)

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  7. Nearly all countries have a problem with those who drink to much on a night out. Iit would be ideal to blame the problem on the council and the bar owners but the fact is alcohol related violence has beens problem for many years long before the late licences were issued
    . In the last couple of years 40% of pubs in my area have closed yet you see just as many drunk and aggressive people on the streets.
    The police should Just get on with it and stop complaining they are happy when they are satt in cars all day pulling over motorists doing 6 over the speed limit but they complain when they have to investigate a crime.

  8. City centre violence? You mean like that which the police inflicted on Chris Alder? You are brave, half a dozen against a man who had his hands cuffed behind his back. Now fuck off and join the BNP.

  9. The shambles of town centre weekends is something that councils and county forces clearly don't want to address - I doubt it even makes it onto the agenda of The Community Safety Partnerships - far too real life....

    There's a fair selection of longstanding laws that could be used to address the worst blatant boozed up antics - but no stomach for it - it seems - from the police and the magistrates. Around here far more effort goes into sneaking about in speed camera vans, imprisoning council tax refuseniks and poncing arounds in fluorescently vinyled BMWs and Lexuses.

  10. Gordon, stop reading the Daily Mail and you might start getting a true perspective on life. Just because the middle classes get a speeding ticket now and again doesn't mean that is all the police are doing.

  11. Woh Lex you are knocking them out of the park today............

  12. A trifle Sid Vicious today, lex?
    Waking to a little Bach is very calming but when I made this suggestion to Jaded she bought a puppy.

  13. Lex
    I unfortunately see this first hand and have had to deal with the consequences.

    According to bar staff and landlords I know, my kids and the children of friends and my own eyes and ears - in a west country town of ca. 35K souls there's a dozen brawls involving both males and females every weekend. The town centre is effectively a no-go zone for "ordinary" folk.

    There are very few arrests.

    My daughter was knocked unconscious and then was then kicked and stomped on by a gaggle half a dozen stilleto heeled "ladies".

    The timidity of local officers extends to be shoved around by aggressive drunks - I have witnessed a patrolling duo getting prodded in the chest and pushed on the shoulder in a way that frankly, if it had been me - would have ended with a dislocated elbow or shoulder.

    Foot patrols are rare and the reaction mentality rules - with blues and twos and the helicopter buzz filling the weekend night air. The usual result = the perps have scarpered and the CCTV is "too fuzzy" and the "victims" are unreliable.

    One fellow got kicked senseless (brain damaged) on a night when there was no presence - the next weekend there were about 70 officers out all Sat night...

    Some bars keep it orderly - but several do not - everybody knows which ones they are - including the local police - but nothing is done.

    I don't give a flying f for the Daily Mail - I know it's out of hand - what I don't know is where it's going to end up - maybe they'll get bored and it'll all fizzle out?

    Sure - folk have always gone out and got pissed - when I used to do it - there was a point beyond which it was unwise to go... there is now no line in the sand - that may sound like an old fart line - but I spend a fair bit of time in conflict zones around the world - and I know shit when I see it.

    In Europe - if people behaved there as I have seen them doing in the UK, they'd get a very different response from the police - yes... very, very different.

    It is happening and it must be dealt with.

    WTF happened to "drunk and incapable" and "drunk and disorderly"?

  14. Gordon, thanks for a sensible response. Where do I begin?
    We used to recruit a balance of officers from different backgrounds. There were the ambitious graduates who wanted to get off the beat and move up the ladder as fast as possible. There was also a lot of working class recruits who came off the Council Estates and knew how to handle themselves and deal with drunken idiots.
    Nowadays we recruit nice middle class officers who have never had a fight in the playground never mind a street brawl.
    Worse than that, when we recruit these officers we brainwash them. They have it drummed into them that in the past the police have been nasty fascists and assaulted people. If they see an officer assault anyone or use excessive force or swear etc. they must report it. Consequently, we have officers who are afraid to lay hands on anyone in case they lose their jobs. You may be rolling around on the floor trying to restrain a violent drunk, another officer turns up and sees the last part and thinks you were a bit rough with the violent drunk. Believe me it happens, and if another officer is suggesting you were over zealous and the violent drunk supports any complaint that is the end of your career.
    On top of that, when you arrest someone for drunk and incapable they receive a days custody, which they have already served. Drunk and disorderly, perhaps a fine of £50.
    Some officers take the view that there is no point arresting anyone for such offences as all it does it takes them off the street leaving their collegaues unsupported or the streets entirely bereft of any officers at all.

    I don't hold with any of this and I agree with you that all these offenders should be arrested and processed. My view is that the criminal justice system is totally ineffective in tackling these problems but if the police give up then we may as well just allow anarchy to take place. The riots this summer were a symptom of where we are and more will follow if the justice system doesn't wake up and become more effective.

    In some towns, including mine, more officers are put out on the streets every weekend to tackle the drunken behaviour. By and large many offenders are dealt with effectively and arrested. The penalties placed on individuals are insufficient to alter the behaviour of others. The pubs and clubs selling alcohol carry on with apparent impunity.

    I am suggesting that the police and local authorities can actually change this culture and behaviour by placing conditions on the licences of those premises selling alcohol in our town centres. The conditions are perfectly justified and not difficult to enforce.

    Can I suggest that you write to the Inspector/Superintendent in charge of your town centre and ask for a meeting to discuss the issues in your town and suggest a way forward as I have outlined.

    Good luck!

  15. I´m totally agree with you, as humans sometimes we don’t have the power of control ourselves and we need someone who can help us with that problem, we all know that alcohol is not good for our systems, the pubs should help us to control the level of alcohol that we ingest avoiding some problems that we can get been drunk in the streets.

  16. Sounds a bit Big Brother to me; Educate and change the habits of the customers - don't try to force it upon them.

    These bars exist because there is a huge demand for them.