The stag and hen party culture in Bournemouth is causing anti-social behaviour and strict new measures are needed to “reclaim” the town’s night-time economy, according to a local police and crime commissioner candidate.
Former Metropolitan police officer Martyn Underhill said the large same-sex groups going drinking on Friday and Saturday nights leave residents in fear of crime. The coastal Dorset town is renowned for its miles of golden sands, but has more recently become associated with rowdy pre-wedding celebrations. There are around 800 licensed premises and the independent candidate insists many of them had to go.
“Pubs and clubs - there are too many by far in my view,” said Mr Underhill. “One of my first tasks is to work with Bournemouth Borough Council to look at licensing. The council has admitted it is looking at that, because the stag and hen culture is a big issue for people.” He said that under his rule, hotels would be warned about the conduct of their guests in a bid to help “the people of Bournemouth reclaim their streets”.
Bournemouth wouldn’t be the first town to take a stand against stag and hen dos. Police in Newquay said a ban on the “inappropriate clothing” associated with such parties had helped to lower anti-social behaviour and recorded crime this year.
Among the items seized by officers were mankinis – a green thong popularised by the Sacha Baron Cohen movie Borat.
David Smith, Bournemouth Borough Councillor for the night-time economy said the authority was doing “everything within the law” to reduce anti-social behaviour. “We have some issues,” he admitted, “but I don’t think it’s a disaster”.
Nick King, Conservative candidate and former landlord in the town, warned against simply closing premises.
“Closing establishments isn’t in the gift of the PCC, nor is it the answer,” he said, suggesting Early Morning Restriction Orders to control numbers on the streets and a zero tolerance approach to low-level anti-social behaviour.