“If you cause trouble, you will get banned” - that’s the message two pub landlords are keen to get across in a bid to stamp out threatening behaviour in pubs.
Scarborough licensees Tony Snow and Danny Smith have been speaking out about the issue of violence in venues across town which staff experience “day after day after day”.
“Only last month a man came into my pub and started threatening me,” said Danny who runs Scholars Bar on Somerset Terrace. “He was refused because he’s a known troublemaker and he tried to intimidate me and said he was going to come back later and finish the job off.”
The same man had previously been at The Courtyard where he threatened licensee Tony with a shotgun.
The landlords say that incidents like this are far from isolated and often involve people “you would never expect trouble from” - women as well as men, young people and adults alike.
Last year, as Tony explained, a young man on a work’s outing had an argument with a colleague and threw his pint glass across the bar narrowly missing the barmaid.
“It smashed the till and caused £1,500 worth of damage but if it’d hit the girl it would have scarred her for life. It’s the mentality... people think that if they walk into a pub it’s a free for all, you can do you want.
“Most of them wouldn’t dream of doing it in normal everyday situations but for some reason they think that in pubs it’s acceptable.”
Staff and landlords are often left feeling “intimidated” and “on edge” as a result. “As a licensee,” said Danny “you’re always wondering ‘who’s going to come in next?’ and it shouldn’t be this way, everyone should work in a safe environment.”
Incidents in pubs vary from verbal abuse, staff getting spat at and in some extreme cases, physical assault. According to the town centre licensees, changes in rules and regulations have allowed violent behaviour to become more and more common over the years.
Tony, who has been in the industry for over 20 years, said: “When I used to go out you used to behave and if you didn’t behave you’d get a whack off the bouncers and that’d be it, you wouldn’t do it again.
“Now, bouncers are very limited with what they can do so people just do what they want.”
As well as aggressive behaviour from customers, pub landlords often find themselves dealing with incidents of theft where people walk away with items such as glasses, cutlery, salt and pepper pots and sometimes even pieces of furniture.
But licensees in Scarborough are getting strict, they say the stricter they’ve ever been.
Recognising the fact that police don’t have the resources to patrol every part of town 24/7, pubs are working together to eradicate violent behaviour.
Scarborough’s Pubwatch, which is now supported by around 65 venues across all parts of town, has recently reaffiliated with the national Pubwatch guidelines.
The scheme sees licensees share information about individuals that misbehave in their premises so that everyone is aware of who they are, what they look like and ultimately are able to stop them from accessing their pubs.
Tony said: “We are giving out three to five year bans and sometimes even lifetime bans. People need to know that if you come into our premises and start causing trouble or you’re caught stealing something you will get banned and that’s not just from my pub, it’s everywhere in Scarborough [pubs which are part of the Pubwatch scheme].”
“We want people to come into a pub and have a nice experience and most people do,” he added. “It’s just every now and then you get someone that wants to spoil it for everyone but we are getting on top of it and these people won’t be allowed it.”