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Police cuts raise pubs' safety fears

By Ewan Turney , 23-Sep-2010

Related topics: General News

Town-centre pubs could be forced to take on extra responsibility for their customers' security, due to police budget cuts.

Police cuts could impact on the pub trade

Police cuts could impact on the pub trade

Town-centre pubs could be forced to take on extra responsibility for their customers' security, when proposed budget cuts to police forces come into being.

 

That is BII boss Neil Robertson's fear, in response to the news that police forces across the country are facing budget cuts of around 25%.

 

The warning comes as the police watchdog also voiced fears that cutting efforts to deal with anti-social behaviour could lead to a "spiral of economic and social decline" in some areas.

 

Speaking to the Morning Advertiser, Robertson said he believed the on-trade may well find itself picking up the slack.

 

"The reality is that there will be fewer police, and crimes may be prioritised according to their perceived severity," he said.

 

"Unfortunately some town-centre disturbances are seen as a low priority, even though they are a high priority for the general public. There is a real risk of the cuts backfiring on the on-trade."

 

Robertson said he could see more pubs and bars clubbing together to take responsibility for customers' safety outside their own doors by paying for schemes such as taxi marshals.

 

"I guess it is 'big society' in action, but it will mean more costs for pubs, which may have to hire more staff on the street," he said.

 

However, Home Secretary Theresa May recently claimed that lower budgets did not automatically have to mean lower police numbers, and said the focus was on reducing red tape.

 

The front line should be the last place you should look to make savings, not the first, she emphasised.

 

Robertson also warned that local authorities facing cuts must not be allowed to use licensing as a revenue generator to make up the deficit.

 

"The current consultation on licensing is so important," he said. "Local authorities must not be allowed to use licensing as a profit centre."

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