On 3 October 2013 the HAND/BOTTLETOP Alcohol Diversion Scheme scooped a High Sheriff of Herefordshire’s Award at the Police Commendation ceremony in Hereford Town Hall for their work in ‘rehabilitating’ those persons excluded from licensed premises across the City for alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.  This is the story behind it:


Herefordshire Against Night-time Disorder (HAND) is the local name for the Pubwatch schemes operating in Herefordshire.


Although there are six Pubwatch Schemes across Herefordshire, the Hereford City HAND Scheme is necessarily the largest, commensurate with its share of the County’s Night-time Economy.  HAND is a non-statutory scheme, comprised of and run by licensees, who address drink related anti-social behaviours amongst clientele.  Perhaps the most punitive of all measures available to the HAND Scheme is to ban a member of the public from all licensed premises within the Scheme – effectively the City Centre – for periods of between 3 and 12 months, once a person’s behaviours have warranted it.  Further breaches lead to extended banning periods.  Please understand that this scheme is separate from any action that the Police or Courts might take – it is entirely ‘owned and run’ by the licensing trade themselves.


Mr Dan GUERCHE is not only the General Manager of the City’s largest and most vibrant nightclub – PLAY – but is also the current Chair of Hereford City’s HAND Scheme.  Recognising that there were a considerable number of persons subject to a HAND ban, he pondered on alternative ways in which to re-engage with these customers in a positive way.  He considered the alternatives, and arrived at the possibility of an Alcohol Diversion Scheme, whereby persons who had been banned in certain circumstances are offered a course of training which would help them address their alcohol consumption and consequent alcohol-related behaviours.


Dr David MARSHALL is an Associate of the Bulmer Foundation, who has already delivered the highly successful Bottletop Project which helps young people to consider, modify or address their relationship with alcohol which has successfully been rolled out within an educational setting – their website is very well worth a visit.  Dan therefore sought out Dave’s successful experience and expertise, and together they devised the BOTTLETOP/HAND Alcohol Awareness & Diversion Scheme.  Dave bid for and obtained the necessary (though limited) public funding. 


The objective of the course is to raise the recipient’s understanding about alcohol awareness, health and social consequences, managed drinking strategies and de-escalation of situations often experienced when under the influence of alcohol.  The course is provided over two hours by a ‘health professional’ drugs and alcohol worker, and successful completion is not attained through attendance alone – but by self-reflective realisation of consequences. 


This commenced in March of 2013 and to date, 24 persons subject of a pre-existing HAND Ban have been selected (by the HAND Scheme Licensees themselves) to attend the course.  To date they have seen NO recipient receive a further Ban through alcohol-related anti-social behaviours.  This (100%) remarkable success is, of course, unsustainable but augers well for the future. 


Inspector Nick SEMPER, Safer Neighbourhoods Lead for the area, said:"We believe that this scheme is only scheme of its type running nationally, and its success now being offered as ‘best practice’ through the National Pubwatch Scheme.  It is, however, completely Herefordshire inspired and implemented, and is something this City can be justly proud of. As a wise man once said – It is one thing to show a man the error of his ways, but entirely another to put him in possession of the truth.  These nominees have done just that."


Editors Note. NPW is aware of a number of such Pubwatch referral schemes being developed in partnership with other organisations but this is a good example of an initiative which has been able to demonstrate a positive impact on offending behaviour.