Data obtained by a Freedom of Information request sent by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA) to the Metropolitan Police revealed that the number of violent crimes against a person in or outside pubs dropped consistently year on year from 2010 to 2013.
But the downward trend reversed in 2014, when the figure shot up 24% to 3,129 incidents. During the first six months of 2015, there have already been 1,777 offences. The trend was similar in licensed clubs and wine bars/bistros.
Offences included in the data were murder, wounding/GBH, assault with injury, common assault, violence with an offensive weapon, harassment and other violence.
The Met launched Operation Equinox in October 2014 to combat the rise in violent crime across the capital. It targeted licensed venues after research revealed them to be hot spots for violence.
The Met said the rise in recorded offences can be partly explained by this crackdown "rather than a rise in violence per se".
Police research revealed a high proportion of crimes took place between 6pm and 6am at licensed venues such as pubs, nightclubs and fast-food outlets.
Following the data, officers working on Operation Equinox, which is an on-going campaign, conducted 9,700 weapon sweeps, re-covered 690 weapons and carried out 617 test pur-chase operations on 13,000 licensed premises between autumn last year and the end of May this year. It targeted enforcement of no-drinking zones and rigorous spot checks in high-profile venues, alongside working in partnerships with operators.
'Further evidence' needed
The British Beer & Pub Association urged the industry not to be overly concerned with the figures covering 23,500 licensed premises in London.
Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "We must not forget that licensees and door staff are well-trained in keeping pubs safe, and handle millions of pub visits every year, without problems, working hard with police and licensing authorities to keep pubs a safe and friendly environment.
"Based on the information available, I would want to see further evidence before concluding that this was upward trend."
Chief superintendent Glenn Tunstall told the PMA: "Officers have worked hard to plan and focus police activity on areas that have a disproportionately high amount of violent crime. This includes focusing on specific licenced premises and fast-food outlets.
"London remains one of the safest cities in the world and the Metropolitan Police is determined to use all of its resources to stem any rise in violent crime and bring before the courts those who commit violence."
The Met said it was also targeting specific venues which flout licensing laws.
A spokesman added: "The Met has a responsibility to keep people safe and we want people to enjoy their evening out in a secure environment. We are aware that licensing-related crime has an impact on communities."