A licensee and former Pubwatch chairman has called for the Scottish Executive to look at making participation in a Pubwatch scheme compulsory.
Raymond Matthew of Bailie's in Peterhead, Scotland, said there were a number of incidents involving knives at pubs in the town over Christmas. He said total participation in Pubwatch was needed to tackle the problem but this was not happening at the moment. "Certain premises are ignoring persistent offenders because they don't want to lose trade," Matthew said.
"I think it should be in the hands of the Scottish Executive. At the moment [council] licensing boards are made up of individuals who don't have the interests of the trade at heart."
The current chair of Peterhead Pubwatch, Margaret Buchan, said that in general the scheme was running "very well" but better participation would be helpful. She said some Pubwatch members didn't pass on the information about the knife attacks via their pagers.
National Pubwatch honorary secretary Malcolm Eidmans said the current Home Secretary Charles Clarke raised the idea of making Pubwatch compulsory four years ago, when he was at the Home Office.
"We pointed out to him that the strength of Pubwatch comes from the fact that it's a voluntary exercise," said Eidmans. "As a matter of good practice [pubs] should automatically be involved.
"I'm not sure that making it compulsory would improve the situation, unless there's a way of making sure people are made to be an active member. But deciding what constitutes active membership' would be difficult."