Now, I’m not advocating the return of such measures, don’t worry — I’m not going Donald Trump on you — those kind of practices belong firmly in the past (although I can think of one or two who might benefit from some time in the stocks) along with floggings, hangings, etc.
However, the news that pubs should have to keep photos of people who have been barred from their premises in a safe, for fear it may breach data protection regulations does seem to suggest that we might have gone a little too far the other way.
Clearly, posting the pictures of barred customers in the form of wanted posters on the back of the bar, or worse still, the front door, is not a good idea — for one thing, it doesn’t really set the right tone of welcome to other customers if you’re greeting them with the images of those that are unwelcome.
But the idea that you can’t even have them on display in your back-of-house areas, according to speakers at the recent National Pubwatch Conference, does seem a little ridiculous.
According to JD Wetherspoon head of licensing, Nigel Connor, the best place to keep the images of barred troublemakers is “in a safe in areas only accessible to staff”.
So for staff to be familiar with who is allowed in, and who isn’t, they have to access the pictures in a hermetically sealed, blacked out room after surrendering their mobile phones at the door.
Needless to say, I think it’s going a little too far. How can we expect front-line staff to be able to manage difficult situations if they’re not even allowed to familiarise themselves and their teams with the faces of known troublemakers?
I’m not suggesting every pub should keep a rogues gallery on display in the staff room, but a little bit of balance is needed and locking those images away from all and sundry seems counterproductive.
Meanwhile, in other legislative news, pubs need to be extra careful when it comes to recruitment, or risk falling foul of the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
While it may sound obvious, recruiting for a ‘barman’ could land you in trouble under sex discrimination rulings, but other areas are easy to slip up in as well.
Advertising for someone ‘young and dynamic’ may seem like a positive move, but again, we’re falling into age discrimination territory — and with the national living wage on the horizon, I fear that issues like this, where it’s cheaper to employ younger people, mean your adverts are more likely to come under scrutiny than ever.
So be careful with your wording and familiarise yourselves with the dos and don’ts the EHRC is putting out. It may seem over the top, but it could save you some grief down the line.