Bad design blamed for inciting pub violence

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The Independent Online
PUB MANAGERS should be trained in 'conflict prevention and management' to reduce alcohol-related violence, according to a report published today. It also says bouncers need lessons in politeness.

The report, Keeping the Peace, from the Portman Group, an industry-sponsored organisation that promotes sensible drinking, says bad pub design may be responsible for 15 to 20 per cent of violence. Skilled managers can reduce violence by as much as 45 per cent.

The guidelines for pubs include avoiding the colour red, which can lead to high levels of arousal and controlling pool tables, where a fifth of pub violence arises. Green, blue or beige are preferable to red and hard shiny surfaces should be avoided.

Above all, managers need to understand customers' frustration. Half of all routine aggression is caused by 'not getting what you want or expect to get'. Staff should 'ensure that they always acknowledge waiting customers and serve in strict rotation'.

A growing number of towns and cities, including Swansea, Doncaster, Bristol and Derby, also operate registration or training schemes for door staff. Police in Coventry estimate that 10 per cent of city-centre woundings are committed by bouncers. Research in Australia indicated that 47 per cent of assaults in one year were committed by door supervisors.

Persuading people to leave quietly is a 'sensitive task . . . which requires specific social and interaction skills'. However, since door staff are usually chosen for their ability to use physical force, a criminal record for violence has often been seen as an advantage.

The report, which has been endorsed by the Home Office, notes growing concern about 'happy hours', said by police to have increased public order problems.