Pub violence rises around pool table

Barrie Clement reports from the British Psychological Society

Violence in pubs is on the increase with combatants using everything from pool cues to pork pies as weapons, according to a report presented to the Conference, writes Barrie Clement.

Fights could erupt anywhere, but only one in 10 could be described as truly "rough" pubs where violence was endemic.

A study of more than 100 licencees in Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and the West End of London, found that "revenge" attacks were on the increase.

Phil Leather of Nottingham University, said: "The idea that people have a fight and then drink together afterwards is either a thing of the past or a myth. One incident often leads to another a few days later when people have their own back."

Dr Leather has been commissioned by Allied Domecq, which owns one of the country's largest pub chains, to establish the causes and possible cures of violence and techniques for coping with the aftermath.

Together with colleagues Rosie Dickson and Diane Deale, Dr Leather found that pubs often suffered from a spate of unruliness with the culprits eventually moving elsewhere.

Fights were often sparked by competitive situations such as pool games where emotions got out of hand, fuelled by drink.

Dr Leather, however, argues that alcohol itself cannot be blamed.

The potential for violence depended on the environment and staff's attitude, "although there is no legislating for the proverbial nutter".

Managers' friendliness seemed to have a calming influence. The design of pubs was also important - putting the pool table near the toilet door so that games were constantly interrupted was not conducive to harmony, Dr. Leather said.

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