National Pubwatch: Warning issued over safety of vulnerable customers

Licensees need to ensure staff are fully trained to support vulnerable customers or face losing their reputation as a safe and secure venue, National Pubwatch has warned.

As pubs and late-night venues are set to reopen fully in June National Pubwatch is urging publicans to educate staff to recognise and act when there may be any incidents that may put vulnerable customers at risk.

This can be anything from refusing entry to a female customer and leaving her alone outside a premises which could make her vulnerable to predators or failing to intervene when a woman looks as if she has been unknowingly drugged.

This challenging year with the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many venues closed in various lockdowns while concerns about public safety, especially that of women, has risen. As the industry reopens pubs and late-night venues need to offer confidence to customers that their venues are safe and secure.

The actions of staff, some of which may have been newly recruited with the reopening of the sector, can have a major impact on safety and protecting those that are vulnerable.

In response National Pubwatch has created a training film called Supporting Vulnerable People, which takes frontline staff through a variety of scenarios on how to ensure the safety of customers.

This includes what actions should be taken when a female has been separated from her friends, to how to intervene when a woman who is drunk or drugged is being approached by an unknown male, to dealing with a domestic fight or helping a customer deal with unwanted attention.

National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker, OBE, said: “Frontline staff need to be able to identify any potential incidents as well as recognise the unintended consequences of their own actions. The best way to manage vulnerability is to ensure you have equipped your team with the guidance and skills to effectively deal with people before they become an issue.”

He added: “The reputation of any pub and bar as a safe and secure venue will stand or fall on how they deal with vulnerable customers.

“The film has been designed to help generate team discussions on the issue of vulnerability and how staff can positively respond to protect them.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “This has been a challenging year for our sector, but as we begin to reopen and recover it is an opportunity to upskill.

“This training film from National Pubwatch is a great resource to help staff and licensees recognise situations where they may need to protect any customers that may be at risk.”

Managing director of Chapel Night Club and secretary and vice chair of Salisbury Pubwatch Amanda Newbery said: “After such a long break from trading, staff upskilling is more important than ever and these videos are a good opener for training sessions. New risks, anxious customers and unfamiliar routines make this quite a high stress environment for our staff.

“Pubwatch is a supportive membership organisation here in our city and it will be even more important for venue management to work together to get through the reopening stages this summer.”

Advice from National Pubwatch

National Pubwatch advises staff to consider the following when faced with any incidents

  • Evaluate the situation
  • Identify any signs of danger, including aggression

and drunkenness

  • Assess who is the best person to help in the circumstances
  • Work with the vulnerable person to find a solution
  • Treat each person as an individual and do not make snap judgments