Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I'm Uneasy About This Kind of Thing

I have drunk in pubs for over forty years and in some rough ones too. In that time, I've seen plenty of arguments, but very few fights, yet alone incidents where glasses or bottles have been used as weapons.  I do though read about such appalling occurrences from time to time.  These kind of attacks, when they happen, are horrifying and need the full force of the law to be brought down on the perpetrators. In fact they need to be locked up for a long time.

These kind of incidents are though relatively rare and while horrible, do they justify the response we see from police in Plymouth?  That is to seek a ban on glassware where "more than one incident of this kind takes place".   The action is aimed at "troublesome night spots" it seems, but reading about it more carefully, there is an indication that it may well be spread wider than that. In fact the Morning Advertiser has a headline which reads: "Glass bottles and traditional glasses are to be banned from pubs and bars in Plymouth city centre to stamp out late night violent crime." Now define "incident" please. And "late night". The Police, as nearly always it seems, are much more likely to try and inflict a restriction on the civil liberties of many, rather than tackle the actual culprits.  If there are well known "troublesome nightspots" then why aren't they applying the letter of existing law and having them closed down or restricted in their operations?  Why should the vast majority of well behaved customers have to drink out of plastic or aluminium, in case a nutter goes berserk?   Oddly the Plymouth cops cite an 80% reduction in "serious violence" in Newquay as a justification.  80% of how many you might wonder?  20? 100? 1000?  Note too "serious crime".  Not glassings, but serious crime.  Dodgy justification and conflating two different things with each other seem doubtful by way of justification unless there is a whole lot more verifiable evidence to support it.

When the police seek to restrict the liberty of individual businesses and customers, they should be made to explain the statistical evidence behind what they are doing, what they have already tried which has failed and why existing powers they have are insufficient to deal with it.

No proof - no way.

I declare an interest here.  I hate drinking out of plastic.  On the plus side, I'm probably in bed by the time these troublesome incidents occur. 


Cooking Lager said...

Plastic glasses are increasingly common in binge drink Britain, more than the average beer enthusiast realises if they only drink in respectable middle class gentrified boozers. Most bars along the golden mile of Blackpool may offer a £1.99 pint of kronenbourg but it comes in a plastic pint pot. I’m not that bothered as I decant my £1.99 kronenbourg into either my pewter or pitch lined leather tankard as beer tastes nicer when slurped either of these and my beard.

I have rarely seen violence in these bars but have occasionally caused it if someone is looking at my bird or spills my pint. Then it kicks off proper, and no mistake.

An interesting observation is the number of branded PET bottles many bottled lagers come in, in these bars, rather than the more common glass ones responsible drinkers that buy their grog from Tesco are allowed to drink out of.

The only pub violence I have ever seen, rather than started myself, was when I once attended a CAMRA meeting and someone mentioned “craft” beer. An argument ensued as to whether there was such a thing as craft beer and before a shake of the cats nuts fists were flying, glasses were in people’s faces, chairs were flying through windows and the sound of a police siren was the only sound to cut through the milieu of thuggery. The landlord was not best pleased but was placated with his pub of the month certificate.

Violence and the threat of an impending fight are one of the most traditional features of the great British boozer. You don’t get them in them namby pamby bars on the continent, only a proper British pub. The police have no business trying to stop it. Save the great British rumble down the boozer!

Tandleman said...

"Most bars along the golden mile of Blackpool may offer a £1.99 pint of kronenbourg but it comes in a plastic pint pot."

Probably due to theft and convenience as much as anything.

RedNev said...

I don't know any pub that uses plastic glasses, and I don't drink only in gentrified middle class boozers. My criterion is the quality of the beer, not the social class of the customers.

I have seen plastic glasses in use in Liverpool city centre when the Mathew Street Festival takes place, but that's more because people like to take drinks outside to watch the bands playing rather than a risk of violence. I've often been to that festival and have never seen any trouble; quite the contrary, in fact.

While trouble undoubtedly occurs, I haven't seen any for many years, even though, unlike TM, I'm usually out drinking at weekends until half past twelve or later.

One thing I do wonder is what authority the police have to impose such restrictions and what rights of appeal exist against their rulings.

Beer Hawk said...

I can't think of a beer that has tasted anywhere near as good in plastic as it does in glass. I therefore never go to a bar that serves in plastic, which is the irony of this kind of move, namely that it puts off the less rowdy, more social clientele and will force out pubs that cater to this market out of clampdown areas. In fact it's entirely to contrary to other policy aims e.g reclaiming the town centres for social drinkers. If social drinkers deselect bars that serve in plastic then you are making certain that your town centres are the "troublesome night hospots" that you were clamping down on in the first place!

Tyson said...

I believe Stalybridge Buffet Bar now imposes a plastic glass rule on Saturday irrespective of whether you are inside or outside. The irony being there that numbers increased because of the ReIl Ale Trail but the people turning up and causing problems weren't drinking real ale.

Cooking Lager said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cooking Lager said...

Eye, real ale drinkers are saints, it's those what drink other stuff are the yobbos, Tyson ! When I neck pongy grog I hardly ever hit anyone ever. No word of a lie. Ask Tand or Mudge. They've seen me drink real ale and not thump people.

And when I do kick off, it's never before 12:35, Nev, so you'll have gone home by then. My local kebab shop owner won't let me in after 12:35, as he knows the score.

Your basic issue, Tand, is that you think the police exist to solve problems rather than manage them. Schoolboy error for a man of the world like you, fella.

Closing down rough boozers moves the rough sorts to other boozers. Managing a rough area prevents problems. Hence if the police get called to a rough pub, nearby ones are told to put bouncers on as a condition of getting a new licence because the rough sort probably drink there too. If an area is rough, plastic glasses for everyone and all licencees in the area have a vested interest in the whole area being less rough, not just protecting there own patch.

If you don't want to drink out of plastic, stay out of the rough areas, and don't take on a pub in a rough area.

The police gave up solving crime years ago, they are in the business of managing crime. That's why rough pubs need plastic glasses and if you need them and phone the police they are too busy, but they will give you some free infra red pens, stickers etc if you turn up to a neighbourhood watch.

I blame Tony Blair.

Tandleman said...

Beer Hawk: Good points.

Cookie: Of course even an old cynic like me knows there is a great deal of truth in what you say. The cops, by and large, like the villains and numpties to congregate in one area and stay there. Makes life a lot simpler for them.

The job of the libertarian is, while recognising that expediency, pointing out to the bizzies where needed, that while that policy is all well and good, don't overstep your bounds by applying it with too broad a brush.

Apply common sense, but don't frighten the horses. Or people like me and RedNev might have a word in the ear of the new commissioner and ask them to fire the Chief Constable, or at least kick his balls publicly for punishing the innocent for convenience.

It's not as if the types that give concern even mind drinking out of plastic.

Tyson said...

Ah Cookie, but remember the old nursery rhyme: Not all who drink lout are louts, but all louts drink lout!

arn said...

A few years ago the Great Welsh beer festival Friday was on the same day as Oasis played Cardiff. on entering the arena the Camra doorman informed us that we would be drinking out of plastic tonight, Cardiff police instructions, but 'on exit when tanked up we'll give you you're souvenir glass to throw at whomever you wish!'
tounge in cheek obviously but you can see the ridiculousness of the situation

Stono said...

sad to say its something Ive seen happen in my neck of the woods too, police get called to a couple of "incidents" as you say and before you know it theyve insisted Friday/Saturday night is polycarbonate only nights.Seems to be a power they acquired under the revised licensing laws, and can be enacted any time too not just nightime, as Ive even seen them force the same pub to do the plastic swap mid afternoon because a couple of local football teams were playing at home.

and one of the bars in our town actually chose to be polycarbonate only from the start,I dont know that it suffers any less "incidents" as a result, as I choose not to frequent it that often not least as yep I hate drinking out of plastic too, but plastic glasses with a layer of condensation sitting on plastic tables have a very unnerving habit of sliding off and deposting their contents elsewhere.

beer festivals I think are different because I know several who are forced due to their location to stick with plastic only as a condition of their license, its not as the result of "incidents" the police dealt with.

and thinking about it doesnt the Rake now have glass inside, plastic outside policy

RedNev said...

CL: you're about as likely to kick off as a discarded hamburger.

Fugger Von Babestation said...

@ cookie
Since when did you become a rough-hewn ne'er-do-well from Victorian Britain ?
"Aye, and make no mistake, I boxed the fellow's ears for his impudence no less. "

JohnB said...

I have two favourites which are right down by a sandy beach. On hot sunny days they insist that visitors use plastic glasses. It's a good safety measure which helps to ensure that accidentally dropped glasses don't cut kids feet.
Pragmatically, regulars still get proper glasses and, funnily, I've heard no complaints from others - people seem to understand.

Pete Brown said...

The whole thing is well dodgy. I blogged a couple of years ago about how stats on glassings in pubs that were being repeated without question and being used to justify repressive measures such as these were, in fact, utter bollocks

Rob W said...

Sadly, the nightspots in question in Plymouth (on the notorious 'Strip') do see some violence involving glass every weekend, and the victims (and often the perpetrators) usually end up in the local hospital. The proprietor of one of the clubs involved has actively sought the use of polycarbonates for some time as she's fed up with the trouble. Local media have supported her, as have the community. The Police have responded to the community as a whole to support it. Plymouth is still a naval town, the 'strip' is smack bang in the middle of a residential area of social deprivation to rival some nationally known ones, and when desperate disillusioned 'yoofs' meet matelots with beer on board there's usually a rumble, particularly of the 'did you touch my bird?' variety. (Cringe). As for Newquay - it's no longer the happy family holiday location precisely because of alcohol-induced violence and sex crime. The townsfolk are sick of Newquay's reputation as party central, they've lost their home to it. I'm not exaggerating, I'm a Plymothian, and I haven't been 'down town' since 1999 for these very reasons, and last went out on the beer in Newquay in the early 90s...

Anonymous said...

Cardiff Council and police force operate a similar policy in which whenever there is an event (of any kind) on at the Millennium Stadium, all establishments must use plastic glasses - eateries included!!!