Fears over plans to force licensees to pay for police flare up

Related tags Essex The police

The row over proposals to force licensees to pay for police has erupted once more with plans to introduce the idea in Colchester, Essex.The scheme...

The row over proposals to force licensees to pay for police has erupted once more with plans to introduce the idea in Colchester, Essex.

The scheme has been suggested by Roy Gray, the licensee of Route nightclub in the town.

Essex Police have said the idea can go ahead - for £41-an-hour - and Mr Gray now wants all members of the town's Pubwatch to chip in.

He said he is prepared to pay for extra policing in Queen Street and St Botolph's Street between the hours of 10pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The paid-for officers would conduct high visibility foot patrols in the area, which Mr Gray said would help stamp out the "severe disorder problems" caused by rowdy drinkers.

"I would like to see all the licensees contributing a small amount for the police to stay in the town, so we know there is an officer only 30 seconds or a minute away if we need one," Mr Gray said.

"If you can reduce any type of crime or violent behaviour in any shape or form you are on the right road."

Mr Gray put his plans to other licensees at a meeting of Colchester Pubwatch. Essex Police told the meeting it would cost £41 per hour per officer but pointed out there were other ways to deal with the problem, such as increasing patrols of special officers.

Pubwatch members have said they approve of Mr Gray's idea but are concerned about the cost and have asked police to look into a "buy one get one free" offer - similar to that used in Manchester's Peter Street.

The Manchester scheme, which means licensees meet the cost of an additional officer to accompany a beat officer, has been successful.

But Government plans in the police reform white paper to introduce a similar scheme nationwide have been criticised by the trade.

The British Beer and Pub Association has told the Government the plans are "not acceptable" and said it was concerned paying for police could become a licensing condition.

It said it was important police were impartial and that could be in doubt if officers had been paid for.

Related stories:

BBPA attacks police pay plan (24 January 2002)

Police reform is 'scandalous' (6 December 2001)

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