A rise in drunken violent crime in Blackpool town centre is evidence talks on a ban on pubs and clubs opening after 3am are “important”, the resort’s top police officer has said.
But Chief Supt Richard Debicki insists the introduction of an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) would be nothing to do with police resources being cut.
He says there is “evidence” that violent crime is increasing in the town centre and there have been problems sparked by drunkenness after 3am.
And he said while he understands the concerns of licensees, it is vital that Blackpool attracts a mix of families and locals. Licensing bosses at Blackpool Council decided to launch a consultation on the move next week.
He said: “What I would say us it is an important decision by the licensing committee.
“Although there are quite clearly some positive aspects to alcohol, where use of alcohol becomes excessive it inevitably causes problems around crime and disorder, as well as the other health and social problems, so I think it is important to talk about these issues and welcome the consultation process.
“We want an economy which appeals to families as well as local people. The way that is created is through a safe environment where people come and want to come.
“What the evidence tells us is although violent crime has reduced over time across Blackpool, incidents of violence and theft are actually going up in the area which the EMRO zone is proposed and that, quite clearly, is not a desirable position.
“There is capacity for 8,000 people in town being served alcohol after 3am. If a proportion of those are very drunk and creating problems it can result in violent crime and other types of crime, but also it acts as a pull around public sector resources - police, ambulances and A&E departments particularly – and those are some of the behaviours we are seeing in the town centre.”
Chief Supt Debicki spoke to The Gazette after some pub bosses warned last week the introduction of an EMRO would spark a “price war” on drink because of increased competition. He added: “It is not for me to talk about pricing issues but what I would say is that the individual (licensees) have a duty to act responsibly within the law and within the licensing objectives and I can’t foresee a position where they would want to condone or promote the notion of speed drinking at drinking up time.
“It is not that I don’t support extended opening hours. There are some areas where, quite clearly, extended opening hours are working and are not generating the problems we are talking about.
“I’m not advocating a one size fits all model, but EMRO legislation exists and I do think in these circumstances there may be some merit to pursuing the EMRO.”
Our position around this is not based on police resources. The wider issue here is public safety and the safety of the wider community and generating a really vibrant night time economy.
“I understand some of the concerns that are being raised by licensees. It is important that we sit down, hear their concerns and hear how they propose to make further improvements.
“We are very open to new ideas but they have to be new ideas which have not been tested.
EMRO position ‘nothing to do with resources’
Chief Supt Debicki says Blackpool’s Police’s backing for the EMRO consultation process is not down to pressures on policing numbers.
He said: “Our position around this is not based on police resources. The wider issue here is public safety and the safety of the wider community and generating a really vibrant night time economy.
He added: “I understand some of the concerns that are being raised by licensees. It is important that we sit down, hear their concerns and hear how they propose to make further improvements.”