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National Pubwatch conference 2017

On 03/03/17 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

Over two hundred delegates from the trade, police and other stakeholders gathered in Reading for the 14th National Pubwatch conference. For those not in the know, National Pubwatch is the body that supports existing pubwatches, provides guidance and assists in setting up new watches. Pubwatches themselves are voluntary groups set up by licensees working together to promote a safe drinking environment, in partnership with the police and licencing authorities.

This year’s conference was special in that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of National Pubwatch, and the organisation has been key in making licensed premises and the overall night-time environment safer for customers and businesses alike over the last two decades, as the key partnership scheme for pubs. The full story can be found in the 20th anniversary magazine here

This year’s conference clearly showed that National Pubwatch was determined not to rest on its laurels. Following the welcome from National Pubwatch Chairman Steve Baker, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Francis Habgood outlined the force’s experiences in partnership working with licensed premises and the wider impact of the late night sector. He talked about the key role licensed premises have in ensuring vulnerable people (such as those left alone during a night out, or have had too much to drink) are kept safe in the night time economy – a theme followed up by police licensing chief ACC Rachael Kearton who also flagged vulnerability as a key priority going forward for the police, who will want to see the trade taking further steps in this area.

The trade view came from the BBPA’s very own Andy Tighe, who highlighted the social, economic and employment benefits of the UK’s vibrant pub sector, the current challenges faced, and the work done by industry over recent years, and continues to do, to tackle alcohol-related harm and promote responsible retailing and local partnerships . Andy also showcased the current initiative from the BBPA aimed at raising awareness on the law around serving and buying drinks for those who are drunk, in partnership with National Pubwatch and Drinkaware - include social media resources and point of sale material which can be found downloaded free of charge here

Andy’s presentation can be found here

This was followed by annual awards for outstanding individuals who have supported pubwatches across the country. The day continued with the break-out sessions, a hallmark of National Pubwatch conferences that really allows delegates to get close to current issues with key speakers and plenty of opportunity for questions, answers and debates. Stephen Walsh QC shone a light on the complex but vital subject of data protection. Barrister Gary Grant updated the conference on recent licencing developments all pub operators should be aware of, with key analysis of new and upcoming changes to the licencing regime.

The second break-out session from PC Matt Moss and licensee Gemma Sands focused on partnership working in Portsmouth between the trade and police, and the effect this has had on the crime rate in the night-time economy which has plummeted in recent years. Key insights included the use of alerts and bans to change the behaviour of customers attempting to use or bring drugs or legal highs into venues and discourage this by socially isolating the individuals concerned – sending a message that drugs would not be tolerated. Pubwatch stalwarts Michael Kheng, Tim Robson and Steve Evans gave an overview of Challenge 21, serving to drunks - which included new National Pubwatch training films, with the serving drunks film funded by BBPA, and freely available here and conflict management.

As it has done for the past fourteen years, the National Pubwatch conference provided in-depth discussion sessions with leading experts, a chance for licensees to meet National Pubwatch representatives and ask questions on the day-to-day practicalities of running a pubwatch, and a forum for the trade, police, local authorities and others to network on common issues. The unique nature and importance of the conference was highlighted yet again in its 20th year. The BBPA has been a supporter and promoter of pubwatches and National Pubwatch for a number of years, and we urge members to support National Pubwatch and promote the scheme to their lessees, tenants and managers.


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