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Improve staff training to reduce violence

Published:  23 July, 2008

Poor staff training and inadequate venue management are key factors leading to alcohol-related violence in pubs and clubs in the UK, according to a new study by a team of psychologists at Nottingham Trent University.

The work, entitled Last Orders for Alcohol-Related Violence, included 50 interviews with victims and perpetrators of violence across Britain, as well as an extensive review of related research.

Findings confirmed that incidents of violence in the on-trade cannot be attributed to any single factor, but are the result of complex psychological and environmental issues. While the former include conflict fuelled by sporting or romantic rivalry among customers, the latter point to failures by the on-premise sector.

Staff-related problems cited by the study include poor training, which may lead to ineffective or aggressive behaviour by employees tackling violence between drinkers. Another point raised was the need for more efficient enforcement of underage drinking laws, as much of the aggressiveness experienced by the night-time economy involves 16- to 24-year-olds.

Common venue management problems in the report include: loud music, which may prohibit conversation and encourage more drinking; inefficient housekeeping, where the build-up of empties can lead to accidental injury and then further violence; as well as a lack of table service, which may exacerbate crowding and frustration around the bar.

Dr Belinda Winder, the study director, said, 'There are a number of steps publicans, club owners and retail chains can implement to reduce alcohol-related violence, and these are all around staff training and venue management.'

The British Glass Manufacturers' Confederation commissioned the report and wanted to determine whether banning glasses and bottles from pubs had any legitimate role in addressing this social problem. Dr Winder concluded that, 'Except in a limited number of problem venues, banning glass will have little or no impact.'