Door staff, CCTV and other security measures are undoubtedly an increasing area of spend for operators, either as part of particular operational terms or because such actions are seen as a necessity.
Granted, a lot of the spend is a result of various licenses but does/should it make up for the reduced police presence on our streets?
The Deltic Group, which has an estate of 65 nightclubs across the UK, spends at least 8% of its overall income on security measures at its venues.
Its chief executive Peter Marks told The Morning Advertiser about ongoing issues around under-policing, and the impact on the late-night leisure industry.
“At Deltic, we are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all of our customers and our staff – we see it as an essential part of our commitment to providing a great night out,” he said.
“Our venues are often the largest in their local area and we have very robust policies in place.
“We spend 8% of our income on security at our venues, which ranges from obvious measures such as door security, to those that are less obvious, such as CCTV, metal detectors and in-house first aid teams.
“The lengths we go to are appreciated by our customers, who see these measures in a really positive light rather than assuming a venue has a troubled reputation.”
According to Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, police cuts have seen just one in 10 offences solved and police “really struggling” to deal with routine crime.
To ensure a safe environment
Marks added that the police’s retreat from the streets has played a “huge part” in venues collectively spending millions to ensure a safe environment for its customers and even the public outside of them.
“We know from experience that Gen Z want to feel like they are entering a safe space,” he adds. “As strong as our own security measures and policies may be, the role of the police in providing a safe night time environment is undeniable.
“In my view, police cuts have led to increased licensing reviews, particularly for smaller towns, and this is only damaging the sector.
“A thriving, vibrant night time economy relies on more than one or two venues, so policing cuts not only damage individual premises but their town’s economic wellbeing and the sector as a whole.”
Following suit, in terms of its overall security, is Stonegate Pub Company, which boasts a portfolio of 772 sites across the UK. Leaving no stone unturned when it comes to safety within its venues, the pubco giant has invested a staggering £27.5m in keeping its punters safe.
When it comes to filtering, Stonegate currently has 50 sites operating bodycams at a cost of £100,000 – which can come into use if door staff have to use knife arches and detection wands where appropriate.
A proactive supporter of Pubwatch – where licensees unify as a group to pre-empt crime and anti-social behaviour in licensed premises – 89% of Stonegate’s licensees said local schemes improve relationships with police and authorities.
Safety issues are not only vital in keeping customers out of harm’s way, they must be controlled so you retain your license and stay out of legal trouble.
National Pubwatch, the voluntary organisation that supports existing Pubwatch schemes and encourages the creation of new ones, says that while the same issues of refusing entry, refusal to sell, drink spiking and domestic violence continue to crop up, there has been an improvement in dealing with them.
Getting pubs to work together to identify the main problems, better communication and working with the police and enforcement agencies to resolve issues have all gained traction, said National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker.
“There is a worrying trend for some police forces to refuse to provide Pubwatch schemes with photographs of known offenders when they have been excluded from other members’ premises,” he explained.
“We have no issue with the pub and hospitality sector taking some ownership in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour in pubs and clubs, but they can’t do it with one hand tied behind their backs.
“If the police are unable to be proactive in identifying and dealing with offenders, they need to seriously think about how they support Pubwatch members who are doing their best to create safer environments.”
Graeme Cushion of specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen said CCTV and security systems had become far more commonplace in pubs over the past few years, and pointed out the things operators need to be aware of when it comes to a pub’s security.
“CCTV and security systems are almost always insisted upon by the police as part and parcel of any licensing application that’s made. It’s a real par-for-the-course requirement these days,” Cushion exclaimed.
“Obviously, the conditions themselves are becoming more detailed and more sophisticated in terms of the spec of the systems they’re requiring.
“With the prevalence of outside areas in pubs and restaurants, both because of visibility on the high street and people wanting to eat outside, systems will be required more and more to cover external spaces as well as internal ones.”
What has become increasingly clear is that, with a worryingly reduced police presence on the streets, it is now the operator’s role to ensure safety within their premises.
And while it may seem like an expense that can be delayed until the following month, reviewing and boosting security within your venue can save you money in the long run.
More importantly, the expense of ensuring your customers’ safety should be priceless as it is.
The cost of CCTV
In March, The Morning Advertiser spoke to Martin Thomas of Innstay UK, which provides EPoS, music and security systems to pubs, to discuss what operators need to be aware of when it comes to a pub’s security and CCTV.
“Years ago, such sophisticated systems would only be used in premium outlets with high capex spends, but now all venues have access to this great technology,” said Thomas.
As an example, he highlighted the fact that Innstay offers a CCTV system for as little as £15 per week in rent.
“This basic package includes four HD cameras, the recorder and remote access via an app,” he said.
“The rental option also includes full service and maintenance throughout the life of the contract, so peace of mind for our customers if anything goes wrong.
“Before we commit to any rental contract we would do a full site survey to ensure that the correct number of cameras are installed to suit the customer’s needs.”
While a high-tech remotely accessed system’s primary function is, of course, to keep a venue secure, there are far broader business benefits for a pub operator, said Thomas.
“The ability to monitor premises remotely is a key benefit to our customers,” he concluded.
“Our high-specification security systems come with a mobile app as standard, which allows owners and licensees to view their venue from anywhere in the world.
“Often owners or licensees want to look at their system to see if the venue is busy or if a certain event night is running well.
“Monitoring CCTV during busy periods is also a great way of determining whether or not staffing levels are correct, for example when the football is on. Is the bar extra busy? Are there enough staff to cope?”