Nearly 100 troublemakers have been banned from Plymouth pubs for anti-social behaviour

17/5/22: Story courtesy of Plymouth Herald www.plymouthherald.co.uk

Pubwatch members ban 86 troublemakers from more than 150 venues for up to five years

More than 80 troublemakers are currently banned from Plymouth pubs for up to five years, the city’s Pubwatch scheme has revealed. The bans relate to a catalogue of anti-social behaviour including making threats, possession of drugs and weapons, and violent assault.

Pubwatch hands out bans of between one year and five years to people who cause trouble in licensed venues. Since 2017 bars have been sharing the information about offenders via the Disc app, which provides bar and security staff with details of individuals they need to watch out for – and keep out of their premises.

More than 150 venues – mostly pubs but also some shops and restaurants – across Plymouth and even Torpoint are now part of the scheme, which has been praised by the police for increasing safety for the public and bar staff. Pubwatch is now encouraging even more vigilance and the thorough investigation of offences as it aims to share its information with police and help with convictions.

Of the 86 people currently outlawed, 15 received their bans since pubs reopened following the Covid shutdown in 2021. These prohibitions were mostly given for assaults on workers – whether door staff, bar staff or management – but the litany of offences also includes attempted assault, possession of drugs or weapons, aggressive or threatening behaviour or violence in a Pubwatch venue.

Richard Smith, founder and chairman of Plymouth Pubwatch, said: “Eighty six people are on a full Pubwatch ban for serious issues. These are bans running from one year to five years.”

He said the bans are levied via a sliding scale with, for example, disorder or threatening behaviour leading to a one-year ban, criminal damage resulting in a three-year ban, and assault or knife crime leading to a five-year moratorium.

And when the worst offenders come to the end of their bans they could even find them reimposed for another five years. Mr Smith said: “There could be a rolling five-year ban. We review them at the point of expiry.”

Pubwatch bans are agreed among members during regular meetings. Any pub or club can ban someone if they think it is deserved, but Mr Smith stressed that bans from venues group-wide are only made after careful thought and evidence is examined.

Information about the banned person is then circulated among members so staff can watch out for them. Plymouth Pubwatch uses the Disc app, a national online information-sharing system which is already being used in 500 UK towns and cities, and by major retailers, shopping centres, security firms and the police. Mr Smith said: “It’s about awareness of people that commit crime and disorder.”

He said Pubwatch is now encouraging its members to be even more thorough with the information they collect and share about troublemakers, in a bid to help the police and criminal justice system deal with the worst offenders. Mr Smith said he is urging pub management and door staff to pass on information to the Disc app and for them to use extra diligence, such as the use of witness statements and CCTV evidence, as it looks to ban people for longer periods and provide evidence that could be used in court.

Mr Smith said: “We are looking to involve more venues, to have more robust records. We will investigate some bans more thoroughly. We will meet with the police this week to discuss that.”

Meanwhile, people who are convicted of an offence could have a Pubwatch ban imposed as part of a Criminal Behaviour Order. Mr Smith said: “We are collecting information on prolific offenders, people that try to get past a Pubwatch ban.”

Plymouth Pubwatch recently marked its 20th anniversary with a meeting at the Barbican’s Crown and Anchor public house, attended by representatives from about 40 city venues. Mr Smith said: “We thanked everyone for their commitment.”

When he set up the organisation it was initially covering only Mutley and North Hill. At that time it had just nine venues, but it soon grew to 43 establishments, covering the city centre, before it went citywide and saw membership encompass more than 100 businesses including in Devonport, the Royal William Yard, the Barbican, Plympton and Plymstock.

It has even spread its influence to other towns, with Torpoint Pubwatch members automatically banning anyone who is not admitted to Plymouth bars. Tavistock and Kingsbridge Pubwatch members can also decide to extend Plymouth bans to their members.

Plymouth’s Pubwatch works in partnership with the national Pubwatch organisation, the police, Plymouth Against Retail Crime (Parc), the city’s Best Bar None premises accreditation scheme, the City Centre and Waterfront Business Improvement District and the security industry.

Mr Smith said: “Police say we have helped decrease serious crime and disorder in licensed premises. Pubwatch is designed to make it safe for us, working in licensed premises, and for people coming to those licensed premises so their visit is enjoyable.”