Digbeth pubs say ‘no’ to breathalyser tests

Digbeth pubs say ‘no’ to breathalyser tests

PUBS IN Birmingham’s Irish quarter have rejected a scheme requiring drinkers to take a breathalyser test before entering their favourite watering hole.

A selection of family run pubs based in the Digbeth area claim the new scheme – a joint effort by West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council to tackle alcohol related violence in the city – would not make sense for their venues or their regulars.

“Introducing breathalysers in Digbeth would make no sense as you can’t reduce zero violence by any percentage, it just isn’t happening here,” said publican John Tighe, who is Chairman of the Digbeth and Highgate Pubwatch Association.

“These are well-run family pubs, working class boozers which don’t even have door security, so no the implementation of this scheme is just not going to happen here.”

The new breathalysed-on-entry initiative, which launched across Birmingham this month, is intended to tackle so called ‘pre-loading’ and alcohol related violence in pubs across the city.

Central Birmingham Police Sergeant Dave Francis said: “In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in pre-loading culture, people coming into the city already drunk and even getting out of taxis holding bottles of wine and vodka and downing them before going into clubs.”

He added: “The breathalysed-on-entry scheme is designed to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder in our nightlife centres. A similar project was trialled in Norfolk last year and was found to reduce the number of disorders at venues by around a third.”

More than 40 venues, largely based around the Broad Street area of the city, have already agreed to implement the scheme – which will see their door staff armed with an Alco-Blow detector that picks out people who may already be drunk.

The devices, which have been funded by the council’s Night Time Economy Steering Group, will flag up anyone who has consumed more than twice the legal drink drive limit as they try to enter the pub.

“This is solely a matter for the big pubs and clubs in the city centre, such as those on Broad Street as far as I am concerned,” said Mr Tighe, who has been the landlord at The Spotted Dog pub in Digbeth for the last 30 years.

“But it’s a rather bizarre scheme as they have decided to set the breathalyser at twice the drink drive limit – which is about three pints or so,” he added.

“So when CAMRA [The Campaign for Real Ale] members go out in groups to have a half pint in a number of pubs they’d get turned away at some under this new scheme. It’s just bizarre and it’s not something that applies to any properly run pub. It’s a scheme for pubs with issues.”

West Midlands Police have confirmed that pubs which do opt in to the breathalyse-on-entry scheme are not told how many people to test, who to test or whether to refuse entry to anyone that ‘blows over’.

But venues will be required to complete a log for each test, noting the time, age and gender of person, the reading and whether the person was allowed entry or not.

The information will be used to “build a picture of the types of people drinking to excess and can be used to form new policing strategies that could help further reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime” they added.