Pubs should expect to pay the price of violence

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It’s not the first idea to be put forward to combat drink-related violence in Portsmouth – and, regrettably, it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Because much as we seek a solution to the perennial problem that afflicts, in particular, our city centre, it seems that another outbreak of disorder is always just around the corner.

So we welcome the suggestion from Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson that what might be dubbed a ‘trouble tax’ should be levied against premises where disturbances occur.

In simple terms, the notion is that every time an offence is committed, the club, bar or pub involved gets an extra charge for being able to continue as a licensed premises.

That money would be ploughed back into meeting extra policing costs and funding community safety initiatives.

The effort to reduce the level of trouble in the city centre has undoubtedly met with some success. But we should not underestimate the cost of this effort to decent, law-abiding citizens. As we report today, the cost of policing late-night drinking areas in the city was an estimated £500,000 in December alone.

So we hope that policing minister Nick Herbert will take good notice of the letter he receives from Cllr Vernon-Jackson.

Many pubs have gone a long way towards reducing the chance of trouble on their premises, but if it remains a problem – as it does – they should surely not complain too much if it is deemed that they should be making a financial contribution to offset the considerable bill that the peaceful majority of taxpayers are having to pay.

We would reiterate again that we believe individuals found guilty of crimes of violence should feel the full force of the law.

As well as stiff sentences, that should include compensation orders to benefit victims of their crime. And it would be good to think that courts were empowered, where appropriate, to order drunken louts to cough up a contribution towards the general cost of policing the areas where yobs cause trouble.