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Police called to pubs and clubs more than 700 times in last year
Police have been called out more than 700 times to pubs and clubs in Watford in the last year, new figures have revealed.
Drugs, violence, sexual offences, animal welfare issues and nuisance behaviour were among the incidents officers had to deal with at licensed premises in the 12 months since August 2010.
According to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, police made the bulk of their visits to establishments in the town centre – specifically the two main clubs Oceana and Area.
Oceana, on High Street, received the most visits, 162, over the last year with police attending to deal with unwell club-goers, hoax calls, antisocial behaviour and drug offences.
The nightclub is one of the biggest venues in Watford with a capacity of 2,700.
Hertfordshire Constabulary said the figures represented a relatively low number of incidents for a town the size of Watford and that there had been a dramatic drop in the level of call-outs for alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour over the last four years.
According to the figures police received an average of 15 call-outs a week to pubs and clubs in Watford which has around 160 licensed premises.
Most pubs in the town saw visits from the police less than once a fortnight.
Top of the list for call-outs to pubs was the One Bell on High Street to which officers were called 45 times in the last year.
Among the incidents police attended at the pub were call-outs for theft and burglary.
The Flag, by Watford Junction station was the pub with second highest call-outs at 32.
Among some of the other pubs police attended was Champions pub, in St Albans Road, in February, for a domesticated animals welfare call-out, and the Essex Arms, in Langley Way, for criminal damage in December.
Last Christmas Day, police attended a number of call-outs including Area for a theft, the Estcourt Arms, in St Johns Road, for criminal damage and Walkabout in the town centre to reports of a sexual offence.
Kathryn Holland, a spokesman for Mitchells & Butlers which runs The Flag, said: “Mitchells & Butlers believes the Flag to be a properly managed, well-run business, with a long-serving, very capable manager and an excellent team of staff.
“As part of running a very busy town centre pub, there may have been occasions when the manager thought it prudent to seek police advice, but there is no history of either crime or enforcement issues at the Flag.”
She added that the number of police visits to the pub would have been inflated by the hoax bomb threat last September.
According to police reports of anti-social behaviour, which featured heavily in the list of call-outs, has decreased in the past four years by 19 per cent across the borough and 24 per cent in the town centre.
Chief Inspector John Dempsey-Brench, Watford’s most senior police officer, said: “Watford as a town has 163 licensed premises and over the past 12 months police have received a total of 782 call-outs to some of these premises.
“This equates to an average of 15 calls per week – which is relatively low when remembering that Watford has thousands of visitors every weekend.
“Some of the premises which we have attended more regularly are also premises which have capacity for hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, so the call-out figures are also low when this is taken into consideration.
“In the past four years Watford has seen a reduction of over 40 per cent in the number of violent alcohol related incidents – which is the equivalent of more than 1,000 fewer offences.”
Stephen Lynn, who is a spokesman for the company that runs Oceana, Luminar, said: “Oceana’s primary objective is for all customers to have a fun but safe time.
“As such, the team at the club have an excellent working relationship with both the local council and Hertfordshire Constabulary and, as highlighted by the police, they are pro-active at tackling any issues that on the very rare occasion might arise.”
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