The Committee considered a verbal presentation by the Chairman of the Newark Pub Watch Scheme, Mr. Paul Goodman, who was in attendance.
Mr. Goodman outlined to Members his personal licensing history and that he had been Chairman of the Group for three and a half years. He advised that he had visited all the public houses in Newark with one of the Council’s Licensing Enforcement Officers (LEO) in an attempt to get them involved with the Scheme, however, some remained uninterested.
Members were advised of how frequently the meetings were held and how they were run together with information as to which external organisations and individuals also attended.
Referring to when a decision was taken to bar a customer from entering licensed premise, Mr. Goodman advised that letters were sent to the individual, explaining the reason for the decision and that these were hand delivered by either the Police or the LEO. Should an individual breach the ban, they would receive a further letter with an additional one month ban from entering the premises. Mr. Goodman also advised that the Group were part of the SchemeLink app which was a useful tool for licensed premises. It was noted that should a licensed premise not attend for 3 consecutive meetings they would be informed that they would be suspended from using the SchemeLink app.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Goodman for his presentation and asked Members if they wished to raise any issues.
In response to how the Licensing Committee could assist with increasing participation in the Group, Mr. Goodman advised that he worked closely with the LEO in an attempt to encourage participation. He added that, if possible, he would like to see it as a licensing condition.
A Member queried as to whether the behaviour of customers had changed since the recent lockdowns due to the pandemic. Mr. Goodman advised that there were currently sixty people barred from entering premises in Newark but that most of these were due to drug taking and/or dealing and not violent behaviour due to drunkenness, noting that this was not just an issue for Newark. He advised that the Group would continue to bar the individuals but that a lack of Police resource had an impact. He highlighted that due to the Newark Police Station no longer having its own custody suite, any individual arrested by the Police had to be transported to Mansfield, thereby removing an Officer from the Newark area.
In relation to whether an individual’s behaviour was changed by being barred from a premise, Mr. Goodman advised that some only ever received one such sanction. However, some individuals reoffended regularly. They argued with door supervisors and designated premise supervisors when trying to gain entry. After the ban was lifted they would ‘behave’ for a short period of time and then be barred again.
A Member queried whether customers knew what the Group were trying to achieve. Mr. Goodman advised that all premises who were part of the Group displayed signage in their premises to make customers aware. He added that the Newark Group worked closely with the national group.
In relation to the length of a ban, Mr. Goodman provided the Members with examples of an incident and the length of the ban therefrom e.g. a minor scuffle – 3-6 months; unprovoked fight – 1-2 years. He added that the Police also had powers to impose a criminal ban which could be for a period of 5 years.
The Chairman advised that some of the Committee would welcome the opportunity of attending meetings and queried what would be an acceptable number. Mr. Goodman welcomed the interest but advised that the current location was too small to accommodate a large number of people. He advised that the Group met on the last Thursday of each month and with the meeting commencing at 9.30am.
A Member queried whether any decision to bar an individual was communicated with other Groups e.g. Southwell or Ollerton Pub Watch. Mr. Goodman advised that this did not happen at present but understood that the SchemeLink app could be linked with other Groups. The Senior Licensing Officer confirmed that this could be done if requested.
In relation to increasing participation, the Vice-Chairman queried whether it would help if the Council promoted the premises which were part of the Group: that they were a safe venue to visit. Members agreed and felt that it would encourage other premises to join the Group.
The recent incidents surrounding ‘spiking‘ was raised with a Member querying whether there had been any incidents in the Newark area. Mr. Goodman advised premises were actively trying to prevent the spiking of drinks by offering customers covers for their drinks when they left them unattended. The Business Manager – Public Protection added that any incidents of drinks being spoked or individuals being spiked with a needle were reported to the Police and would be investigated by the CID. To date, most of the needle spiking incidents had not involved any drugs.
On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman thanked Mr. Goodman for his attendance and presentation which had been worthwhile and informative.