Ensuring bar safety a good idea

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 15, 2008 Ed Cartoon

Nineteen London bars have formed the London Bar and Entertainment Association (LBEA), a conglomerate of establishments that works together on improving safety and enforcement measures for London’s nightlife.

The group will meet on a regular basis to share information on common problems and solutions and notify one another of problem patrons ejected from the bars and clubs.

The idea certainly has potential to improve the quality of safety on Richmond Row and throughout the city. In addition to sharing information, the group could work together to discuss possible lobbying techniques when addressing problems with the municipal government.

As well, sharing information " notably on specific problem patrons " could save customers and bar staff a lot of trouble.

The benefits of sharing information and strategies would not be limited to bar fights. Bar owners could convene on a number of other topics such as drug dealing, rohypnol (the “date rape” drug) usage and appropriate responses by bouncers and door staff themselves.

There is some concern that the association might lead to smaller bars piggy-off of larger watering holes such as the Ceeps, Jack’s and Jim Bob Ray’s. These bars take a lot of pride in their security measures, and may not want to share their resources with smaller bars when it is considered extra aggravation.

However, larger bars are more prone to problems such as fighting " you are much more likely to see a dispute come to fisticuffs at Jim Bob’s than at the Poacher’s Arms " so maybe these bars would benefit most from crackdowns on violence and drug peddling.

Another concern is that the program will perpetuate a self-policing culture currently in place downtown. The attitude on Richmond Row seems to be that unsavoury folk should be thrown out as quickly as possible, and may not be dealt with properly by the authorities.

Hopefully, the LBEA will prevent such incidents, thanks to increased communication with the London Police Service. Also, the perpetuation of violence could be thwarted by communication between bars concerning the worst repeat offenders.

One upshot of the association is the increased presence of off-duty police officers in bars, which would help ensure proper enforcement of rules and bylaws.

At the end of the day, there may be feasibility issues surrounding the association: how will other bars recognize problem patrons without profiling, and whether or not there is much information that can be shared.

Nonetheless, the program is a step in the right direction. London bar owners are right to try it out, and hopefully it works out as they plan.

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