by David Clifton, one of thePublican.com's team of legal experts from London solicitors Joelson Wilson
How many times have you heard the now familiar refrain that the towns and cities of this country are plagued by alcohol-related crime and disorder at night?
How refreshing it is, then, to hear of an extremely successful initiative in Burnley. The scheme is called BAND, which stands for "Burnley Against Night-time Disorder". It has so far won two national community safety awards and has been shortlisted for a third.
I have been speaking with Sergeant Andy Moore of the Lancashire Constabulary, based in Burnley, who has explained to me the workings of the scheme since it was introduced in November 2000.
He has described it as "an excellent example of a partnership approach to resolving crime and disorder" with the participants being the police, local licensees, Burnley Borough Council, the Royal British Legion Association and Burnley Town Centre Management.
Prior to the inception of the scheme, all Burnley licensees were asked if they would take part in a Pub Watch-type scheme with a view to the sharing of information on trouble-makers.
People who have been arrested for causing problems inside licensed premises and who are either charged or released on police bail are issued with a notice of an interim ban, preventing them from entering participating licensed premises.
Each person issued with an interim ban is then discussed at a monthly meeting of the BAND scheme, with a vote being taken by licensees as to whether or not the person concerned should be banned from all participating premises for 12 months. If such a ban is imposed, the banning notice is personally served on the person by a police officer.
A sheet containing photographs of all banned people is distributed to licensees on a monthly basis. Once a person's photograph has expired, it is removed from the sheet. The police have taken into account Data Protection Act implications.
Additionally, all participating premises have subscribed to a community radio scheme which is monitored 24 hours a day by the British Legion, enabling information to be passed speedily between licensees if a banned person attempts to gain entry to any licensed premises.
All in all, it appears that BAND has been a resounding success. Sergeant Moore said: "The effect of the scheme is that people who are banned find the scheme to have a defining effect on their behaviour, whereas their arrest does not.
"The fact that they lose their privilege to go out for a drink and meet their friends clearly has a profound effect on them. So much so that, within a couple of months, most people write to me asking for the ban to be revoked and apologise for their previous behaviour".