'I feel bad for the doormen' - How clubland venues deal with drunk and disorderly behaviour

.An officer watches Halloween clubbers on Prince of Wales Road

An officer watching weekend clubber in Prince of Wales Road - Credit: Neil Perry/Archant

Club and bar bosses have promised extra vigilance to beat loutish behaviour after figures revealed Norwich is a hot-spot for drunken yobs.

Freedom of information requests submitted to police forces across the UK showed Norfolk Constabulary issued 479 arrests per 100,000 people between 2016 and 2020.

In 2020, there were 71 drunk and disorderly arrests per 100,000 in the county.

And there were a total of 655 arrests for drunk and disorderly arrests in 2020 with Norwich's Prince of Wales Road well-known for having a lively nightlife. 

Richard Chisnell, owner of Sherbert Lemon and Fat Fox Pizza Den, has been running bars and clubs in Prince of Wales Road for more than five years.

He explained how his businesses work with the SOS Bus to help sober up drunk people with glasses of water and warn other venues not to let them in if they are in a bad state.

Richard Chisnell is the owner Sherbet Lemon cocktail bar on Prince of Wales Road.

Richard Chisnell is the owner Sherbet Lemon cocktail bar on Prince of Wales Road. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

"We try not to throw them out and leave them on their own," Mr Chisnell said.

"Prevention-wise, if someone is drunk inside the premises, I or another bar staff member alert our doormen who have a chat with them and try to escort them outside peacefully.

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"If they carry on being aggressive, we will flag it up with an officer nearby. If they are really, really drunk we sit down with them, and staff have had to run down to the SOS a few times."

The businessman believes there has been an increase of drunkenness in the city.

"I do feel for the doormen when they do have to really explain to the customer who is really drunk and can't stand up, stinking of alcohol," Mr Chisnell said.

Richard Chisnell is the owner Sherbet Lemon cocktail bar on Prince of Wales Road.

Richard Chisnell is the owner Sherbet Lemon cocktail bar on Prince of Wales Road. - Credit: Jessica Coppins

"Sometimes they do not want to hear it in that state and the doormen have to be extremely patient when they are getting abuse." 

Andre Smith, owner of the new Cans 'N' Cocktails bar, is surprised by the statistics being so high. 

He said: "There is a lot of pre-loading before they come out. As a venue we can't stop people drinking too much but legally we can stop serving if they have had too much to drink.

"People do drink excess amounts and a mix of recreational substances. 

"Every licence holder has a legal obligation not to serve if someone is drunk." 

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails bar on Norwich's Prince of Wales Road with StopTopps anti-drink spiking measure

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails - Credit: Cans 'N' Cocktails

Mr Postles' Apothecary, which is located in Upper King Street, has had to turn away a few people at the door since reopening in May. 

But manager Keir Slater said there has not been a single forced ejection in that time.

"It is not really an issue for us and I would suspect these numbers come exclusively from Prince of Wales Road," Mr Slater said.

"Obviously a licence holder has a responsibility not to serve someone who is drunk. 

"We have to refuse service on occasions but it is not that kind of atmosphere where there are physical objections." 

The manager believes the figures could depend on police resources. 

He has also seen a rise in customers coming for cocktails later in the evening rather than drinking in excess earlier.

He continued: "Drinking trends did change during lockdown when bars closed earlier and with food service changing." 

While Norfolk was fourth on the list, it fell a long way short of Northumbria where cops issued the most arrests for drunk and disorderly arrests in 2020. The figures were collated by pharmaceutical company MARS UK.

With a total of 785 offences per 100,000 people, Northumbria was top with Merseyside second in the UK with 489 arrests.

Natalie Pye, manager of Mambo Jambo in Lower Goat Lane, is currently trying to get a cocktail bar licence.

Mambo Jambo restaurant.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mambo Jambo restaurant.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

She said: "We very, very occasionally get drunk people on Saturday nights that have been in a serious state.

"We have got a flight of stairs so staff are incredibly conscious of monitoring people."

Nightlife venues in the city's clubland recently welcomed police using drones over the Halloween weekend in response to reports of drink spiking and criminal activity.

Mr Chisnell said it is a good way to track people who collapse in alleyways just off Prince of Wales Road.

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