Working closely with premises and having a consistent policy in dealing with licensing issues has reaped benefits for Thames Valley police, chief constable Francis Habgood told delegates at the National Pubwatch conference last week.
He said that instead of focusing on targeting specific towns with busy late night economies, a new approach has seen the police engage more closely with all licensed premises.
“We found that we were able to put resources into neighbourhoods outside those late night economies, particularly those licensed premises that were not getting that much attention,” he said.
“As a result of this we found that lower level public order offences have reduced and our violent crime had not increased.”
He said that a consistent policy dealing with issues at licensed premises was important and provided a clearer approach for the licensee.
“There are two key questions we ask when there are any issues. The first is what could or should the premises have done differently to prevent it occurring. And the second is given that it did occur how did the premises respond or react to it,” he said.
“The answer to these questions allows the police to have a proportionate approach to resolving the issue.”
There is then a three-step approach the police take in dealing with any issues. In the first instance they will contact the premises informally by telephone and email hoping that the licensee will take responsibility.
If things get more serious or there are more incidents there will be a problem-solving meeting with police and the licensing authority while the third tier is enforcement.
One area where the Thames Valley has focused is on helping the vulnerable people on a night out. It has trained over 750 staff in premises on awareness training.
Meanwhile, Rachael Kearton, ACC from Suffolk police and NPCC lead on alcohol and licensing, praised the work of the licensed trade in helping vulnerable people.
She said the Ask for Angela posters which are placed in areas such as the back of toilet doors were important in helping people that feel vulnerable on a night out.
“If you go to the bar and Ask for Angela the bar staff know that you need some help getting out of your situation and will call you a taxi or help you out discretely,” she said.
“I think that is so simple.”
She also praised a recent case where a man in his 80s that used to visit a pub was spotted as needing help. A licensee and staff raised the alarm and the man was rehoused.
She also praised licensed premises for offering CCTV from outside their premises to help fight criminal behaviour.