One of Sheffield’s most popular social clubs – Crookes – which stages a wide variety of entertainment from live bands, boxing and bingo through to comedy, children’s parties and Christmas pantos, has become one of the first licensed premises in England and Wales to receive a National Policing Award for Safety.
Crookes, which has been described as the ‘nightspot of the north’, achieved this safety accolade after successfully taking part in a pioneering, police-led initiative to improve the safety and security of its premises for the benefit of staff, customers and local communities.
Available as an on-line self-assessment, Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI) brings together, for the first time, all the information that licensed premises need to comply with the requirements of local police and council licensing teams, achieve a star-rating and have the opportunity to apply for Licensing SAVI accreditation and an award.
Crookes is best known for its live bands and guest singers and can host up to 500 guests in its main function room. In 2019, it achieved Entertainment Club of the Year.
The venue’s many other attractions include quiz nights and dance, fitness and self-defence classes. With snooker and pool tables of its own, Crookes takes part in pool and snooker leagues. Outdoor activities include bowls and running clubs.
General Manager and Secretary of Crookes Club, Maurice Champeau, who is also vice-chair of the local pubwatch, said: “I was a little cynical when first approached by Licensing SAVI thinking it was just another unnecessary platform with little benefit for our club.
“But I found the structure of the self-assessment allowed me to analyse all our safety and security measures in turn and quickly and easily identify potential omissions in our equipment and procedures.
“I had never spent time reviewing all our security measures and I am now confident we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of our customers and staff and the overall security of the premises,” added Maurice.
John OMalley, of South Yorkshire Police Licensing Team, said: “It’s vital that we keep looking for new ways to improve security and safety measures around our night-time economy venues, especially now as venues resume business as usual after COVID lockdowns.
“Collaboration is really important and we’re pleased to support venues using the Licensing SAVI self-assessment and accreditation, which brings together lots of different agencies, authorities and businesses to work in partnership to keep staff, guests and local communities safer."
Licensing SAVI was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), which works alongside the Police Service to deter and reduce crime. As well as provide safer and more secure venues for managers, staff, customers and local communities, it also seeks to reduce demand on Police Forces, NHS Ambulance Services and Accident & Emergency Departments.
A YouGov survey of 5,050 adults aged 18-45 in England and Wales commissioned by Police CPI between 16 August – 5 September this year, found that 79% of adults agreed with the statement that ‘recent publicity around the safety of women and girls has made it more important for licensed premises to improve their safety procedures’.
The research also found that support for improved safety in venues is greatest among women – with 83% of women wanting improved safety in nightclubs compared to 75% of men; and 81% of women wanting safer bars and pubs compared to 70% of men.
On 15 October, Licensing SAVI was launched to 300 licensed venues across Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield and Kirklees in West Yorkshire in a move funded by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit in partnership with the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership.
Licensing SAVI covers critical issues like responsible drinking, drugs misuse, violent behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable customers through to preventing opportunist theft and improving physical security, such as lighting and CCTV.
It also covers drink spiking, which has hit national headlines over the last few days with reports in the media about this and the injection of drugs.
Most measures included in Licensing SAVI can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost.
The first police award of its kind and independent from the alcohol drinks industry, Licensing SAVI is backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Project Servator, a police-led vigilance scheme to deter terrorist attacks at crowded-places.
Mark Morgan, Business Manager, Licensing SAVI, said: “I’m excited that we now have several venues in the Sheffield area registered and trying a new means of maximising safety at their venues, with the Crookes Social Club being the first in South Yorkshire to receive our accreditation.
“I’m also delighted with their feedback from an industry perspective which will help shape the future of Licensing SAVI and ensure it remains a current and meaningful product to the hospitality trade.
“Reflecting on the findings of our recent YouGov survey – any venue displaying their safety accreditation contributes to the perception of safety amongst both customers and staff, so can expect greater footfall and is ultimately good for business,” explained Mark.
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