SUSSEX Police has confirmed it is making an unprecedented move in pulling out of Worthing’s Pub Watch scheme regarding concerns over a “breakdown in its relationship” with the scheme’s management.
The situation arose surrounding the force’s initial recommendation to revoke the licence of Liquid Lounge in Chatsworth Road (see story on page 13).
It prompted letters of support from Pub Watch members, including one which stated all “premises that sell alcohol in the late-night economy will always experience some incidents of violence, criminal behaviour and drunkenness”.
The letter, from a pub landlord in Montague Street, added that trust had been damaged between police and pubs due to the perceived haste with which the recommendations had been put to revoke the licence of Liquid Lounge.
Diane Guest, of Worthing Pub Watch, said: “I am shocked this has happened as I had asked for a meeting with police last week. I hope this can be resolved as Pub Watch was set up for the safety of Worthing town centre and won an award in 2008.”
Jean Irving, Sussex Police’s licensing and public safety manager, said: “It is disappointing we are left with no option but to withdraw our support to Worthing Pub Watch, having previously had a good working relationship with them.
“This letter, along with some subsequent correspondence, has left us concerned about the Worthing Pub Watch scheme and where its interests lie.
“The evidence submitted by Sussex Police, and accepted by the management of the Liquid Lounge and Light Bar, clearly demonstrates a number of warnings regarding unacceptable practices were given to the management of the premises.
“It concerns us that the implication within the letter is that licensed premises will consider not reporting incidents which take place at their premises.
“Not only would this fail to promote the licensing objectives which form the basis of their licences, but it would also be failing in their duty of care to the public.
“Although we have withdrawn our support from the Pub Watch scheme, we will be continuing the positive relationship we have with licensees in the town.”
District police commander Chief Inspector Jo Banks added: “This is not a decision taken lightly and has been done with my full support.
“A professional working relationship between the police and licence holders is essential to ensure people living and visiting Worthing can enjoy the night time economy safely.
“We look forward to engaging with licensees in the town to ensure this can continue.”