Revellers caught committing violent crime in Aberdeen could face a court ordered ban from city centre pubs and clubs under a new initiative, police said today.
The move will see officers work together with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the licensed trade to further reduce violence and antisocial behaviour in the city.
Chief Inspector George Macdonald said: Due to our positive working relations with a number of partners, we have witnessed a significant reduction in violent crime and antisocial behaviour throughout Aberdeen City. The City Centre in particular has seen serious assaults drop by over thirty percent in the last three years but we know that there is absolutely no room for complacency and the joint working and focus will continue.
We are committed to building on this progress and make no apologies for the strong stance we are taking on this issue. The vast majority of people who come into the city centre to enjoy a night out, do so responsibly and return home safely.
Time and again however, we see the same few individuals involved in a disproportionate number of incidents, almost always related to alcohol abuse.
This minority who cannot control their behaviour, will be targeted and the use of these court ordered exclusions sends a clear signal that it will not be tolerated by Grampian Police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the local licensed trade or the people of Aberdeen.
Chief Inspector Macdonald added: Alcohol fuelled behaviour places additional strain on the emergency services, not simply at the time of the incident, but in the case of NHS Grampian, for example, the ongoing treatment can stretch into the days, weeks, and months afterwards. When you factor the impact on victims, family and employers the behaviour of this minority should not be underestimated.
Our message is clear - control your drinking and your temper or you will find yourself legally barred from entering not just one venue but all of those within a specified area. Aberdeen is a vibrant and safe city and we are committed to maintaining and improving that position.
Andrew Richardson, Procurator Fiscal for Aberdeen said, We will ask the court to exclude those convicted of violent offences from the licensed premises where the crime has taken place. We will also ask the court to exclude them from other late night venues in the centre of Aberdeen. This will ensure that the vast majority of revellers can enjoy a safe night out without it being spoiled by an anti-social minority.
The exclusion orders part of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 also enhance the current scheme operated by Unight Aberdeen, a group of licensed premises in the city who have joined together to introduce a barred from one, barred from all policy in or around one of their venues.
Mark Donlevy of Unight Aberdeen said: Unight Aberdeens members are committed to working towards a safe and vibrant nightlife within the city centre of Aberdeen.
The group works hard to ensure that joy and revelry of party goers is not affected by the small minority of people who are in involved in anti-social behaviour and violence within the city centre.
Further to the ongoing banning and sharing of information on known and convicted troublemakers, Unight Aberdeen is now working alongside various agencies with the aim to make the presence of these errant individuals within the city centre not only unwelcome but also a condition legally forced upon them.
Speaking on behalf of Aberdeen Excise License Holders Association, Jack Dempster said: We fully support the use of Exclusion Orders in respect of violent offenders either in or around Licensed Premises.
Our members are continually trying to improve the environment of their premises and the last thing they need is violent behaviour, and all the issues that come with that, detracting from their efforts. Whilst violent behaviour is thankfully not the norm, it is important to get the message out that it will not be tolerated, and that our members will stick together in this regard.
Rigid implementation of the Exclusion Orders will, we feel, go a long way to hopefully reducing such violent behaviour and towards making the city a safer place for everyone.
Chris Fowler of Unight Aberdeen said he expected the Exclusion Orders to have a tremendous impact. He said: A troublesome few have caused substantial or repeated, violence, distress and damage. If these people are deterred from entering the various licensed member venues this will have a tremendous impact on improving the already rising standards all our venues in the city strive for.
Sandy Kelman, of the Aberdeen City Alcohol & Drugs Partnership, added: I fully support the use of this legislation to combat alcohol related violence and disorder.