Violent pubs are named and shamed

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The Independent Online
PUBS AND nightclubs whereviolence breaks out are being publicly listed in league tables as part of a police-approved pilot project which has angered the brewing industry.

Hospital casualty staff log the locations of assaults which result in victims requiring treatment. The information is used to compile tables identifying the most dangerous drinking spots, for release to the media.

The scheme is being pioneered in Cardiff, is under consideration in central London, and may be extended to other parts of Britain.

Mike Ripley, of the Brewers and Licensed Retailers' Association, said: "There is a great danger of licencees being named and shamed for something that did not happen on their premises at all."

He said that the evidence of victims would not be corroborated and that grudges or commercial rivalry could lead to people giving wrong information.

Anthony Burden, the Chief Constable of South Wales, said he would be recommending to other police chiefs. "Here we have got professionals in the health field willing to contribute information which has not been available to us before. For the first time we are getting a true picture of the size of the problem and a reflection of the premises involved."

Previous research indicated that eight out of nine assaultsresulting in hospital treatment were not reported to the police.

Mr Burden said the tableswould help police to deploy resources more efficiently and improve violent establishments."In the first instance there is a legitimate reason to work with the management to reduce the problem but if that co-operation was not forthcoming, I would expect to see strong enforcement of the licensing laws, closing the premises down or working with the owners to change the managers."

The scheme is the brainchild of Professor Jonathan Shepherd, a surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales. Hisresearch into pub violence, particularly the horrific injuries caused by beer glasses, is admired by the Home Office, which has accepted some of his proposals for toughening glasses.

Prof Shepherd is chairman of the Cardiff Violence Prevention Group, which oversees the tables. The group includes hospital consultants, county councillors, a senior police officer, a victim support representative and the chairman of the city's licensing justices.

The first league table of 60 Cardiff drinking spots was recently released to the local media. Covering the first eight months of the year, it revealed that two nightclubs accounted for a large proportion of the city's violence, with 45 and 34 serious assaults respectively.

One city pub was the location for 20 attacks and three other pubs were named as the scenes of at least seven assaults each.

Prof Shepherd said: "In the past, hospitals would just stitch them up and send them on their way, learning nothing about the patterns of violence."