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.