The city of Leeds, which has one of the largest evening and night-time economies in the UK, has joined a pioneering police-led initiative designed to improve the safety and security of licensed premises. Leeds will pilot this scheme in conjunction with operators in the city centre across bars, pubs and clubs.
The city’s participation means the whole of West Yorkshire is now supporting the Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (ie Licensing SAVI), with Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees already signed up.
Each of the five areas will be encouraging 60 licensed venues to take part – making a total of 300 venues in West Yorkshire – as the county leads the national roll-out of the scheme throughout England and Wales.
Funded by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, the project is being delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership.
Licensing SAVI encourages venues to improve their operational security and management practices year-on-year by using an online self-assessment, which includes all the police and council licensing information that venues need to meet statutory licensing requirements for safety and security. Venues can be awarded a ‘star’-based rating and apply for Licensing SAVI accreditation.
The initiative specifically covers drink spiking and injection incidents, which have made media headlines over the last few months, as well as providing guidance around issues like responsible drinking, drugs misuse, violent behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable customers.
There’s a female safety policy for venues to adapt for their own use, while Licensing SAVI also covers physical security, such as emergency exits, lighting and CCTV systems. Most measures included in Licensing SAVI can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost.
Home Office request
Licensing SAVI was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives, a not-for-profit police organisation working alongside the police service throughout the UK to deter and reduce crime.
The aim of the initiative is to provide safer and more secure venues for managers, staff, customers and local communities and also reduce the demand on police forces, the NHS Ambulance Services and Accident & Emergency Departments.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for resources with responsibility for ‘Safer Leeds’, explained: “Leeds is proud of its prestigious Purple Flag status in Leeds city centre, which reflects the tremendous work being undertaken day-in, day-out by a range of partners to make the Leeds night-time economy more attractive, diverse and safe for all. The Licensing SAVI pilot is another opportunity to work with and encourage operators to further raise standards such that people can enjoy their experience, are safe and, importantly, feel safe.”
Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh, director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, added: “Bringing Leeds into this initiative offers yet more momentum for our collective goal of increasing safety within West Yorkshire’s vibrant night-time economy. This now fully-unified approach means that people enjoying our towns and cities can do so in the knowledge that establishments are operating to a consistent and high standard.”
Marsh continued: “When it comes to the safety of women and girls, we know they’re often disproportionately affected by acts of criminality such as drink spiking and sexual offences. The Licensing SAVI approach delivers added reassurance that their welfare is paramount.”
Mark Morgan, business lead for Licensing SAVI and a former police superintendent, concluded: “I’m thrilled and delighted that the city of Leeds is on board. Leeds has a reputation for wanting to improve the vibrancy and safety of its evening and night-time economy. Licensing SAVI will complement all of the city’s other initiatives designed to help its venues achieve higher standards of safety and security for the benefit of staff and customers alike.”