FIVE people have been banned from Croydon pubs and more than 50 people have received warning letters, in a new crackdown on drink-fuelled crime.
Pub licensees say the tough new measures banning persistent troublemakers will reduce alcohol-related disorder, while helping others enjoy themselves in safer, more comfortable surroundings.
In the first six months of the scheme operated by the 35-strong licensee group, five people have been banned from pubs in the town.
Additionally, more than 50 warning letters have been sent out to customers who have caused trouble, warning them they face a ban if they continue to offend.
Under the scheme, customers accused of antisocial behaviour are reported by individual licensees to a steering group of seven who decide how they should be dealt with.
Serious offences, which might also require police action, such as assaults on customers or staff, drug dealing, hate crimes, sexual assault and carrying a weapon, can receive an immediate 12-month ban from all PubWatch member premises.
Less serious offences, such drunk and disorderly behaviour, minor anti-social behaviour or causing a public nuisance, are usually dealt with on a "three strikes and you’re out basis".
Esther Sutton, chairwoman of PubWatch, said the overarching aims of the scheme were to have a collective approach to dealing with "persistent and prolific troublemakers" by excluding them from all pubs; protecting staff from physical and verbal violence; reducing the fear of crime and freeing up valuable police resources.
She said licensees were confident the scheme was working.
Ms Sutton added: "For people who value their social life in Croydon town centre, being barred from everywhere is massive.
"A collective approach sends out a very clear and robust message that antisocial behaviour and crime will not be tolerated by Croydon Pubwatch members and ultimately, we hope, will result in a far safer and comfortable environment within which people can socialise and enjoy themselves."
"We’re not looking to ban loads of people from our pubs. It is hoped the threat of exclusion will be enough of a deterrent.
"As a collective of licensees we just want to say that disorderly, violent and criminal behaviour is not acceptable in our premises.
"We hope the message will continue to spread, making Croydon at night safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone."
Story and photograph courtesy of Croydon Advertiser www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk