Southsea pub The Duke of Devonshire could lose its licence after police attend three serious incidents in two days

A PUB in Southsea faces losing its licence after a series of ‘serious’ incidents over the weekend.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 7:31 pm

Hampshire Police said it had ‘significant concerns’ about The Duke of Devonshire after being called out to a fight, a sexual assault, and a 17-year-old girl being forced to take a substance thought to be cocaine.

It has called a formal licence review with Portsmouth City Council urging councillors to suspend the licence for the Albert Road pub until a full hearing can take place at which, it said, the force would call for the licence to be revoked.

Pub landlord Tom Yaman said he wanted ‘to make things right’ and was working to improve the running of the pub.

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Tom Yaman at the Duke of Devonshire, Portsmouth on 7 May 2021. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The review was called after police were called to three incidents on Friday – July 30 – and the next day.

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On the Friday, a 17-year-old girl reported that she was able to order alcohol without challenge before being sexually assaulted by an older man who groped her. It is then alleged that he produced what is believed to be cocaine and forced it under her nose. The girl was then asked to leave. Police said its investigation into the incident was ongoing.

On Saturday, another woman reported being groped which triggered the third incident of a mass brawl involving ‘about 10 men’. Police said five men were arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one was arrested on suspicion of possession of a class A drug. It added that the men had since been released under investigation.

Hampshire police has criticised the handling of these incidents by the pub's management, including the decision to force the ‘extremely vulnerable’ girl to leave after being sexually assaulted and the time it took staff to respond to the fight.

The pub has already been fined after concerns about management levels over a series of visits carried out over the past year.

It has now called for a full review of the pub's licence by the council, citing ‘the serious risk of harm’.

‘It is clear that the operation of the premises has fallen short of the required standard in order to fully support the licensing objectives,’ superintendent Claire Jenkins said.

She added: ‘The risk of further incidents causing harm to women using the premises and becoming the victim of further sexual assaults is unacceptable. The risk of further incidents of violence is also unacceptable.’

She said the decision to call a licence review was ‘the most appropriate’ response it could take.

Council licensing officers visited the pub on Monday after the police complaint was lodged and councillors subsequently agreed to call a licensing sub-committee meeting to consider the review on Thursday evening.

Mr Yaman said he wanted to work with the police.

He said: ‘I'm always willing to work with the police and the authorities to improve things," he said. "We want to make it right and have already carried out extra staff training to make sure that happens.

‘We want to make sure we are running a safe pub for the public.’

The licensing sub-committee will meet at 6pm on Thursday.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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