More funding is needed if local Pubwatch schemes are to continue winning their fight against crime and disorder. This was the stark message from the founders of National Pubwatch when they met with Andrew Cunningham, head of alcohol and licensing at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport this week.
Members of local Pubwatch groups met with the minister to discuss their future. Pubwatch, which aims to cut alcohol-related crime and disorder, has cash problems which have put the scheme in jeopardy.
Although he could not confirm whether funding was in the pipeline, Mr Cunningham praised the work of Pubwatch initiatives across the country and said such schemes would take on a more important role when the new Licensing Bill comes into force.
"The bill will promote National Pubwatch and local Pubwatch schemes as a positive means of reducing alcohol-related crime and disorder," Mr Cunningham said.
"However being a member of a local scheme will not be a condition for licensees," he added.
Founder Raoul de Vaux said: "The government wants to make Pubwatch groups far more important and try and make sure people take their duties responsibly. We are still soldiering on and struggling to keep Pubwatch going and to do that we need government funding."
The organisation is the industry's equivalent of Neighbourhood Watch and fights to cut crime and violence in and around pubs by helping to set up local schemes with licensees and the public and issuing information on best practice for licensees.
Although there are no national figures available, in some areas, such as Blythe in Northumbria, setting up a scheme has led to crime falling by as much as 50 per cent.
National Pubwatch told thePublican.com it was in financial hot water last August after some companies failed to give promised funding. After its plight was highlighted on the site, offers of help flooded in.
Pubwatch secretary Malcolm Eidmans said: "We still need more funding. Pubwatch needs more industry support and we should highlight our past successes where schemes have helped to cut crime."
thePublican.com helps to save National Pubwatch (28 August 2002)
National Pubwatch faces ruin (8 August 2002)