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Customer safety is key to hospitality sector recovery, YouGov survey reveals

Safety in licensed premises is going to be a huge factor to the recovery of the hospitality sector as it emerges from COVID lockdowns and restrictions and seeks to attract staff and customers, a YouGov survey has found.

Research of 5,050 adults aged between 18-45 in England, carried out between 16 August – 5 September, found they feel significantly less safe in licensed premises now than they did prior to the first national lockdown in March 2020.

With safety defined as ‘where efforts have been made to prevent crime, reduce harm and where staff will support you if you are feeling vulnerable’, the fall in feeling safe was consistent across a wide range of licensed premises from bars, pubs and nightclubs to restaurants, hotels and guest houses, theatres, stadiums and arenas and sports and social clubs.

The survey was commissioned by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), a police-owned organisation, which works alongside the Police Service to deter and reduce crime. One of its latest initiatives is Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI), which seeks to improve safety and security in licensed premises.


The survey of adults, who would visit at least one licensed premises in a six-month period, found that the fall in feeling safe was most significant in nightclubs – down from 81% of adults pre-pandemic to 48% today. The next highest fall was in bars and clubs from 93% – 64% respectively. Even in restaurants, where the fall in safety was lowest, there was still a 17 percentage point drop from 98%.

Females feel significantly less safe across licensed venues today compared to prior to the pandemic with the largest percentage drop in nightclubs from pre-pandemic levels of female safety of 79% compared to 37% today – a fall of 42 percentage points. The next highest safety falls for women were in bars and pubs, and stadiums and arenas of 35 percentage points.

Similarly, in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender groups there were falls in feelings of safety with the highest percentage falls in nightclubs of 34 percentage points, bars and pubs 33 percentage points, and stadiums and arenas 32 percentage points.

In Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Groups the greatest percentage falls in feelings of safety were at stadiums and arenas at 42 percentage points, followed by bars and pubs at 31 percentage points and nightclubs at 30 percentage points.

Licensing SAVI was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police CPI and evolved following significant input from UK government security experts and licensing professionals.

It is backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which brings Police Forces together to help policing coordinate operations, reform, improve and provide value for money, and Project Servator, a police-led vigilance scheme to deter terrorist attacks at crowded places. It has also gained support already from the NHS in certain parts the country for the way Licensing SAVI is independent of the alcohol drinks industry.


Mark Morgan, Business Manager for Licensing SAVI, and a former Merseyside Police Superintendent, said: “These findings send out a clear message about how important providing safe and secure venues is going to be as licensed premises recover following the lockdowns and restrictions. It also shows equally clearly about the need for venues to be aware of the need to look after females and people from minority groups.

“We believe Licensing SAVI can help lay the groundwork for licensees to improve safety each and every year as they grow their business and attract new customers.

“From a policing perspective, we want to work with licensed premises and to encourage them to be successful. They have been through a tough time and deserve our full support. By working together in partnership, we can encourage them to run safer venues, which will not only have benefits for their staff and customers but also reduce demand on front-line police officers, ambulance crews and accident and emergency departments.”

Licensing SAVI brings together for the first time the most comprehensive, single source of information that licensees need to meet the requirements of police and council licensing teams, comply with the Licensing Act 2003 and promote the four Licensing Objectives: Prevention of Public Nuisance, Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Protection of Children from Harm and Public Safety.

It provides definitive information on effective management practices and operational security as well as some straightforward safety measures, many of which can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost, which some licensed premises may not have considered before.

For an annual licence fee of £100, Licensing SAVI is available as an online self-assessment, which can be accessed on a laptop, tablet or phone at any time of the day.

Licensees that complete the self-assessment will receive a Star-Rating and can then apply for Licensing SAVI Accreditation and an Award which can be displayed at their premises showing the efforts undertaken to enhance safety and security. Licensees can use their Star-Rating as a benchmark to further improve their safety and security and achieve a high Star-Rating Award year-on-year.


Being constantly updated to include the latest licensing legislation, changing patterns of criminal behaviour and industry best practices, it can become a key process in the running of a venue whether it’s a start-up business, established operator, single independent business or part of a large chain of venues. It can be used as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to undertake a venue health check, which could be timely because of the return to work of staff who have been on furlough and the recruitment of new staff to replace those who have left.

Critical issues covered include responsible drinking, drugs misuse, violent behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable customers through to opportunist theft and physical venue security.

It includes procedures such as pre-employment checks, age verification, managing unplanned large queues and customer searches through to ejecting badly behaving customers and dispersal arrangements when everyone leaves at the same time.

Other aspects of security are included too, such as staff branded uniforms and identification badges, CCTV systems and lighting, identification scanning and intruder and hold-up alarms. Raised areas behind bars to increase staff vision are suggested, and how to assist customers to get home, such as displaying taxi contact details or bus and train times, are included too.

There is even a non-assessed guidance section on counter terrorism and a COVID-19 risk assessment template for licensees to use.

Contact Licensing SAVI

About Police CPI
Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI) is a police-owned, not-for-profit organisation which delivers a wide range of innovative and ground-breaking crime prevention and demand reduction initiatives to support the UK Police Service, Government and the public. Senior police officers control and direct the work Police CPI carries out on behalf of the Police Service.