A concerted ‘clean-up’ effort, in one particular area of Leeds, is showing very promising results, much to the delight of pub manager Hudson Simmons.
Hudson runs The Hedley Verity, in Woodhouse Lane, a very busy night-time destination for Leeds’ pub- and club-goers, especially on Friday and Saturday night.
Hudson and his team are actively involved in their local pubwatch scheme, one of several across the city, working together to tackle issues such as violence and disorder, drug misuse and antisocial behaviour.
Leeds pubwatch scheme provides the opportunity for licensees to exchange information, identify local troublemakers and exclude them from premises, reduce the risk of assaults on staff and customers and develop a positive relationship with local police and other agencies.
One particular pubwatch initiative has had a dramatic effect on the reduction of violent night-time crime in a street comprising at least a dozen pubs, bars, clubs and late-night venues.
Street marshals are employed by the clubs and bars in the city centre to keep the area safe outside of their own premises.
They deal with rowdy behaviour as it arises, by warning troublemakers about their behaviour, liaise with other clubs to ban entry for specific people, get city-centre CCTV cameras trained on troublesome groups or individuals and contact the police, when necessary.
The street marshal scheme, which originally started in Manchester, is entirely funded by the clubs and bars which make up the city’s night-time economy. Local businesses were asked to chip in, effectively, to help with policing their streets.
The venues, including The Hedley Verity, provide their own street marshals, invariably an extra door staff member, to act as intermediaries between what happens inside their premises and outside.
Door staff are already responsible for what goes on inside venues, but it becomes the problem of the police and the wider public, if that trouble then comes outside of the premises.
The street marshals are the link between the two. They have a responsibility to identify possible problems early on, diffuse situations and prevent scenarios from escalating into violent behaviour.
Hudson, pictured second left with members of his team, said: “At the last pubwatch meeting with the police, they reported a 40-per-cent reduction in violent night-time crime in Woodhouse Lane, over the previous six- to eight-month period. The street marshal scheme has gone a long way towards helping with that reduction.”
Harry Burbidge, duty manager at The Hedley Verity, said: “I attend the meetings with Hudson – and he has been a driving force in the pubwatch clean-up act.
“We operate a very strict door policy at our pub, especially on Saturday; initially, we were turning away numerous people.
“However, with the help from the other venues in the area, which are operating the same zero-tolerance approach, people have got the message – and Woodhouse Lane is definitely the better for it.”