'Name and shame' plan to cut pub violence

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The Independent Online
VIOLENT pubs and clubs could be "named and shamed" by the police in an attempt to drive down increasing numbers of alcohol-induced brawls and assaults.

Police in London are considering the move in response to a continuing growth in violent crime which, they say, is now taking place mainly "behind closed doors", in homes and pubs.

Violent crime in the capital rose by 6 per cent in the year to April 1998, with nearly 50,000 recorded incidents. It was also revealed yesterday that, overall, crime in the capital has dropped, with big reductions in burglaries and car break-ins, but an increase in sex offences.

In an initiative that may be adopted nationwide, one central London police station is drawing up plans to report to the brewers a number of public houses which have a high number of violent incidents. The names may also be passed on to the press - according to senior Scotland Yard officers - leading to adverse publicity that would dissuade potential customers.

Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said this type of scheme was likely to become more commonplace when the forthcoming Criminal Justice Act obliges police and local authorities to include a crime reduction aspect into all decisions.

The Home Office's chief criminologist blames a continuing national rise in the number of assaults, in part, on the fact that more people can now afford to drink to excess.

Announcing this year's crime statistics for London, Sir Paul said there had been a 5 per cent drop in the past year to 778,279 offences - the lowest since 1989.

There has also been a similar reduction in the number of muggings and bag-snatches, down to 32,500. Sir Paul attributed part of the success to a controversial new "in your face video" scheme, in which suspected and convicted muggers are openly filmed on the street by uniformed officers in an attempt to stop them reoffending.

A senior officer said the technique ensures that the potential robbers know the police have evidence of what they are wearing and where they are on a given day.

The system, currently used at about 30 stations in the capital, has been criticised as heavy-handed, particularly if used in racially sensitive areas, and could infringe the civil liberties of innocent bystanders.

Scotland Yard yesterday defended the tactic, which was first used in operations against football hooligans, arguing that it had helped cut mugging and only criminals would have anything to hide.

The number of burglaries recorded in London showed the biggest single drop - down 14 per cent in the past year to 135,000, from a peak of 195,000 in 1991-92. This follows the high-profile, proactive Bumblebee campaign. Car crime fell by 8 per cent to 157,000 offences, the lowest since 1980.

The only other category of crime to rise - along with violence - was sex offences, which went up by 9 per cent in the past year to 7,654.