Published Date: 19 May 2010
By BRIAN FERGUSON
SERIOUS crime in Edinburghs nightclubs and late-night bars has been slashed in the three years since nightspots joined in a self-policing initiative.
The number of assaults in and around nightclubs and late night bars in Edinburgh has been vastly reduced due to the self-policing initiative. Picture: TSPL
Dozens of members of the Unight scheme agreed to operate a joint banning policy targeting regular troublemakers in a move believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
New figures have revealed a plunge in offences involving drugs, weapons, assault and theft in the nightspots that signed up to the venture. Possession of drugs has gone down 82.9 per cent, while supply of drugs has slumped by 94.6.
The total number of crimes reported in the 45 premises run by Unight members dropped from 1,546 in 2007 to 944 last year a reduction of 38.5 per cent.
Better training for door staff, pro-active campaigns against drugs and violence and growing intelligence sharing between nightspots have all been credited with the scheme's success.
Figures released earlier this year revealed that police are called out to deal with more than 150 crimes every week in all of Edinburghs pubs and clubs.
Some 8,025 individual incidents were reported to the force last year, compared with 4,500 call-outs in 2007, with thefts and minor assaults making up the vast majority of incidents. However, these figures include every pub within the city boundary, and it is thought some of the more problematic licensed premises lie outwith the city centre.
Under the schemes data-sharing system, CCTV images of drug-takers or violent customers are sent to other clubs. Offenders are then given a banning letter prohibiting them from entering any of the venues involved in the scheme, with the minimum order lasting three months.
Among those banned from Edinburgh nightspots under the scheme was Hibernian star Derek Riordan, who was caught three times trying to sneak into venues while serving a two-year ban.
The schemes members also introduced bans on irresponsible drinks promotions and so-called legal high drugs before laws were passed.
Superintendent Donnie MacKinnon, from Lothian and Borders Police, said: With any relatively new scheme like this you are always likely to see some element of displacement, but the crucial thing about Unight is virtually every club in the city has signed up to it.
The figures for the Unight members speak for themselves, and as far as were concerned it has had a hugely positive effect. Aberdeen has since launched its own scheme, and we understand other parts of the country are also looking to follow suit.
Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: The member clubs of Unight have led by example in tackling binge drinking in Edinburgh by banning promotions that clearly do nothing but encourage people to get out of their heads.
Getting rid of these irresponsible promotions is an approach that is clearly working. It is just one of many good things being done by Unight and a great example of the licensed trade working closely with police to make Edinburghs night-time economy safer and more enjoyable for everyone