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Watford 1am booze ban on ice as town centre improves, says chief inspector Dave Wheatley
Decreasing violence and disorder around Watford’s nightlife means there is no pressing need to impose a 1am booze ban, according to the town’s most senior policeman.
Chief inspector Dave Wheatley said this week he is "not yet sure" if the force needed to pursue the controversial measure but felt the town centre situation currently was in a "good place".
Yet he warned an early morning restriction order (EMRO), which places a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol in a designated area after an appointed time, was always a tool the constabulary could turn to.
His comments come after his predecessor, Nick Caveney, said he was "actively looking" at the option of a 1am ban last year as a way of reducing disorder around The Parade at night.
The former chief inspector, who departed in June, argued at the time that as most violence occurred between 2am and 4am, a 1am ban could help reduce disorder.
The proposals met resistance from pub and club-owners and since then there have been a number of other police initiatives introduced to reduce crime and violence in the town centre at night.
Commenting on the possibility of introducing an EMRO, Chief Inspector Wheatley said: "It has been mentioned, and I have to say three months into it I am not sure yet.
"I don’t see it at the minute, but it is early days and I am still scanning that part of the business.
"But it is all about if everybody is engaging in the right way - through the pubs, through the partnerships. Then we are just going to react to what’s coming along.
"And there is a solution there we will use if needs be. At the moment - and I am not discounting anything like that - what I see is good partnership and joint working."
The chief inspector, who took up the top job in Shady Lane at the beginning of July, said after seeing the night time police operation in the town he felt the situation was improving.
He added: "I think the night time economy is in a good place. With the work that Nick (Caveney) has done it is in a good place. You’ve got Scan Net, you’ve got Pub Watch.
"The pub watch has been very engaging. I think what we have done - and certainly through the work Nick has done - we have moved them, shall we say, to a position where they are engaging with us."
Scan Net, which was introduced earlier this year, means punters cannot get into pubs and clubs without having their ID scanned and recorded.
The data can then be used by police in investigations to see who was in which venues.
The scheme has been hailed a success by police and already led to arrests following a mass brawl in The Parade at Easter.
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