Pubwatch keeps customers safe with latest anti-terrorism seminar

4/10/23: Story and photograph courtesy of Reading Today
Reporter Jake Clothier  

Staff from venues around Reading attending the anti-terrorism seminar, with Reading Pubwatch’s honorary secretary, Bill Donne, centre. Picture: Jake Clothier

READING Pubwatch is continuing to keep Reading’s venues to high standards of quality and safety, including the latest of its regular anti-terrorism seminars, this week.

On Monday, October 2, representatives from venues around Reading took part in the seminar which sees owners and staff given support and advice on how to prevent and deal with terrorism in their businesses.

Reading Pubwatch runs the sessions in conjunction with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and Reading Borough Council, and offers valuable frameworks to help businesses protect themselves and customers from security threats.

Bill Donne, honorary secretary of Pubwatch, said following the seminar: “We’ve been running the seminar for the last 17 years with the aspiration that those running late-night venues and restaurants can undergo training.

“This shows them what to do in the event of a terrorist attack, not only if one happens, but for plans and contingencies before it takes place.”

Mr Donne explained that within the industry, and within most businesses, it has become a necessary skill.

“We provide basic training for management so that they can plan ahead and deliver training to their staff so that they can react in the appropriate way to protect the public.”

“We help with awareness: what suspicious or unusual behaviour looks like, spotting suspicious packages, that kind of thing.

“Like so many contingency plans, it’s about rehearsal of what to do in the moment as well as provisions, such as first aid supplies and equipment suitable for a major incident.”

As to how concerned about the issue the public should be worried, he emphasises that: “There isn’t any particular cause for alarm in Reading compared to anywhere else.

“That said, it is always better to be prepared, especially in light of the recent Manchester Arena bombing.

“A lot of the training being given now is on the back of the proposed Martyn’s Law, currently going through the committee stage in parliament.”

He continued: “Here in Reading we’ve had three major attacks, including the attempted bombing at Reading Station in the 90s, and more recently a ‘dummy’ bomb in the Oracle,

“And, of course, the tragic attack in Forbury Gardens; the fact is that there is a risk, and in the UK the risk warning is currently marked at ‘substantial.’

“There is no specific risk to Reading, however, outside of the national situation for England and Wales, so it’s important to stress that the work is preparatory.”

Pubwatch works with licensees, police, venues, and Reading Borough Council to uphold the safety and standards of pubs, restaurants, and bars, and was awarded National Pubwatch of the Year last year.