Police operation to make Paignton town centre pubs safer
POLICE have launched a major operation to make Paignton town centre pubs safer after dark.
The high-profile Operation Ambassador was launched earlier this year in Torquay to cut violent crime and is now moving to Paignton.
Officers have been carrying out visits to all licensed premises in the Station Square and town centre areas.
Now they will be using police dogs, knife arches and swabbing pubs and night clubs where it is thought drugs are being taken.
Plain clothes officers will be visiting premises where police have concerns about disorder, anti-social behaviour, drugs, underage drinkers or drunks being served alcohol.
The operation is being lead by acting Detective Inspector Chris Yarwood who said: "There are premises in that area of Paignton that are causing concern.
"One of the concerns is the levels of violent crime around the town centres on Friday and Saturday nights.
"We are carrying on with the operation in Torquay around the harbourside but at the same time we have moved on to Paignton.
"There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the work that has been done has significantly cut down the amount of violent crime on the harbourside in Torquay.
"As an organisation we are quite happy to have a similar impact in Paignton.
"We don't want to hinder the running of licensed premises. What we want is to enhance the safety of members of the public.
"We have good data which shows that violence is linked to the Station Square area and the centre of the town where the licensed premises are based.
"To be fair to everybody we are looking at the whole picture. Already we have carried out a series of licensing visits with the neighbourhood policing teams.
"Plain clothes officers will be deployed and are being deployed to carry out observations."
Det Sgt Chris Tapley said: "One of our priorities is reducing violence with injury and we have come up with a strategy to try to improve those figures.
"It's starting now and going through Christmas and New Year.
"It's mainly in and around the town centre in Paignton where we have issues with violence.
"Torquay harbourside has been a problem area in the past and we are really getting on top of things there.
"In Paignton we have got problems particularly at weekends with general disorder and there is no doubt that violence is fuelled by alcohol.
"We want the message to go ahead of us about running pubs properly when it comes to serving drunks, underage drinkers and in general about anti-social behaviour and disorder in licensed premises.
"There is a lot of overt work going on with drugs dogs, knife arches and taking swabs from surfaces in areas where we believe drugs are being used and taken, such as in toilets."
When Operation Ambassador was launched the head of South Devon police Supt Jim Nye said: "It's not Big Brother. It's about ensuring we have a safe night time economy as already recognised that benefits Torbay.
"This is not picking on the licensing trade because the majority do a great job and generally there is a good atmosphere.
"The licensees play their part by making sure that they do not serve those people who are underage or already intoxicated."