The Special Constabulary took part in a licensing operation in Hitchin last month which saw drugs detected in 14 venues.
A total of 38 premises were visited by Kuljit Sangha, the constabulary’s Senior Licensing Officer for North Herts, and a team of eight Specials.
Specials are volunteer police officers who give up their time to keep the public safe. They play a vital role in preventing, reducing and tackling crime. All have the same powers as regular police officers, including the power to arrest.
On the evening of Friday 24 March, Kuljit and the Specials visited venues within Hitchin town centre and its outskirts. They were also joined by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).
The aim of the operation was to check that all licensing conditions were being adhered to, including CCTV conditions, and that fire safety procedures were being followed – such as clear exit and entry points. It also focused on identifying which premises are supporting the Ask For Angela campaign* and issuing posters about drink spiking.
The operation resulted in:
Eight premises found to have minor breaches of their licence. These included not displaying their premises licence summary, no refusals/incident book, CCTV footage retain period less than what is stipulated on their licence condition. As a result of this, follow-up visits and/or letters are being completed.
Eight premises identified as having fire safety issues. These included blocked fire exits, fire exit doors open, no smoke detectors. The Fire Authority have been contacted.
14 premises with drugs detected in the toilets. The team had used Cocaine wipes and wiped flat surfaces such as toilet lids, cisterns and sanitary bins. Venues were given advice on how to prevent and tackle drug-taking on their premises
10 premises were given drink spiking posters
A number of premises given more information about supporting the Ask For Angela campaign. Many were already signed up whilst some were not interested in joining
24 checks on SIA accredited doorstaff. One venue had a security guard with an expired licence. This was seized and he was sent home. Further enquiries are being carried out by the SIA.
Kuljit Sangha, North Herts Senior Licensing Officer, said: “I am pleased that this operation did not identify any major issues with the premises’ licences and the minor breaches that were identified should not take too long to resolve. I hope this is reassuring to those who enjoy Hitchin’s nightlife.
“I would like to thank all the venues for taking the time out of their schedules to comply with our visits.
“Operations like this are really important as they ensure that licensed premises are adhering to the stipulated conditions. Not only do these operations highlight any issues that need sorting but it gives us a chance to share advice, such as around preventing drug use.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the Specials for helping out. Their support was very much appreciated and the results of the operation show the impact that their volunteering has on helping the constabulary to keep the public safe.”
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*Ask For Angela encourages people on a first date (or who have met someone for the first time) - and who feel unsafe - to get help from bar staff. Anyone in such a situation can get help from bar staff by simply asking to speak to “Angela."