Pub Watch scheme “effective”

A BUSY but trouble-free festive period has emphasised the effectiveness of Montrose’s Pub Watch scheme as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour, local publicans have said.

No new names were added to the Pub Watch offenders’ list during the whole of December, traditionally one of the busiest times of year for licensees, which the scheme’s committee has said demonstrates that the system does work.

Pub Watch was set up four years ago by Tayside Police and local licensees to try to cut down on antisocial behaviour and make a night out in the town a safer and more enjoyable experience.

It tackles incidences of threatening or violent behaviour towards customers and staff, deliberate damage or vandalism, misuse of drugs or unacceptable behaviour by banning those responsible from all other Pub Watch premises. Bans can vary from three months to life, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

New cases are brought to the committee’s monthly meetings and members, adhering to the national Pub Watch’s guidelines and constitution, decide on the penalty before notifying the person by letter.

A ban enforced under one town’s scheme is also applied in other towns and area committees have a right to ask to see a neighbouring committee’s list.

A Pub Watch spokesman this week told the Review that despite all the usual nights out over Christmas and new year period, as well as the potential flashpoint of the Montrose/Rangers game, behaviour in the participating premises was generally good.

He said: “We had a very busy period in December with the Rangers game, staff parties, nights out and Hogmanay but a the January meeting we had no new names to add to the list. There does seem to be a slight fear, that people don’t want to be put on Pub Watch and behave themselves and as a committee we feel it really is working.

“The scheme’s there to protect staff, who have a right to work in a safe environment, and for the customers who also have the right to enjoy their nights out in a safe environment.

“It also help the police. If an incident happens, the police are called out to investigate and no-one wants to press charges, this is another way to stop people getting in to pubs to cause trouble. A ban can be quite wide if participants look at each other’s lists, so if someone is on Pub Watch here they can also be banned in Brechin, for instance, and vice versa.”

At the moment there are between 30 and 40 names on the committee’s list and participating premises include The Anchor Bar, @Bar, The Black Abbot, The Black Horse, Montrose Caledonia Golf Club, The Golf Inn, Hillside Hotel, The Market Arms, The Neptune Bar, The Northern Vaults, Occasions, The South Esk Inn, The George Hotel, Sharky’s, The Picture House, Steeplejacks, The Carlton Hotel, The Albert Bar, Pucci’s Cafe, The Links Hotel and the Park Hotel.

Community officer Constable Ally Hutchison also endorsed the effectiveness of the scheme, which is backed up by local police as much as possible.

He said: “We attend as many meetings as we can and it’s an effective tool in helping to keep the town as safe as it can be. Those on it are banned from all Pub Watch premises. On the enforcement side, it can help us to stipulate bail conditions by telling the fiscal that an offender is on Pub Watch and a ban from licensed premises can also be enforced that way.

“It’s effective and we assist as much as we can and, with Montrose being a small town, names get around quite quickly and we all know who is on the list.”