Venues call out police 150 times each week

POLICE are being called out to deal with more than 150 crimes every week in Edinburgh's pubs and clubs, it emerged today.

Figures obtained by the Evening News showed that officers responded to 7,081 individual incidents at pubs in the Capital during last year.

In the same period, police were called out on 944 occasions to clubs in the city, including 289 assaults and 50 drug-related offences.

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The number of call-outs to clubs in 2009 showed a drop compared to the year before, when 1,126 incidents were recorded. The Unight scheme, which links together late-night venues to ban troublemakers from all establishments, is cited as a factor behind this decline.

While the volume of incidents has soared from October 2006 to November 2007, when only 4,500 call-outs to pubs and club were registered, licensing chiefs believe the increase may be due to a closer working relationship between licensees and police which has meant officers are alerted to incidents which may have gone unreported in previous years.

Thefts and minor assaults made up the majority of calls to nightclubs, with reports of drug dealing falling from 15 in 2008 to just two cases last year.

Serious assaults in clubs rose to 25 from 17 in the same period, but reports of weapon possession, thefts, minor assaults, and breaches of the peace all decreased.

Meanwhile, among the 7,081 incidents at city pubs last year were assaults, drug offences, theft, refusal to stop drinking when asked by staff, noise complaints and "malicious mischief".

Pubs in the city centre were responsible for more than half of the total calls while premises in north Edinburgh and Leith were second on the list with 1,067 and south Edinburgh third with 854.

Councillor Marjorie Thomas, the city's licensing leader, said the higher number of police call-outs when compared to the 2006-7 figures may be an indication of greater co-operation between venue bosses and police.

She said: "From a licensing perspective, the name of the game nowadays is very much on licence holders and police working together to mediate any issues before they get out of hand.

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"I don't think it was a matter of sweeping incidents under the carpet in previous years – that would probably be too strong – but there is certainly better relationships now and more willingness from police and licensees to play ball.

"Unight has also been a wonderful achievement where clubs have joined together to say they don't want any trouble in their premises.

"I don't want to complacent, but I think licensing procedures in Edinburgh are pretty good and I don't believe the number of call-outs are out of proportion."

Last October, the Evening News reported that the Unight scheme, which links all 45 late-licence venues in the Capital, had led to a 21 per cent drop in recorded crime outside nightspots.

Under its data-sharing system, CCTV images of drug-takers or violent customers are sent to other clubs. Offenders are then given a banning letter prohibiting them from entering any of the scheme's venues, with the minimum order lasting three months.

A police spokesman said: "Police work closely with the licensed trade and other partners to ensure that licensed premises are safe and secure for members of the public to enjoy.

"We will respond quickly to any incidents that occur within licensed premises, and through a combination of pro-active policing and robust enforcement, we aim to prevent disorder and maintain Edinburgh's reputation as a safe place to enjoy a night out."