Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Matter of Public Safety Not Morality

Floodlighting, cameras and professional doormen are making the area round Wiggle safer...

I am lucky that I can count on the support of a number of brilliant people when writing articles for this blog. One of the best is TonyN and you will have read his many comments on this blog. Some time ago Tony decided that the issue of the causal link between clubs and violence needed to be explored and a definitive conclusion reached. Tony's analysis encompasses every operational club in the United Kingdom and he is currently drafting the final report. Understanding the urgency of the matter in Portsmouth, Tony has very kindly released information in advance of the final report being published and its conclusions must be taken into account by Portsmouth Council.

Before we discuss the findings, lets look at the basis upon which the analysis was undertaken. The figures were drawn from the public website, which anyone can access and verify what we are about to present. The figures are for all incidents of violence including sexual violence and assault and TonyN elected to use a 50m radius around a clubs location for the analysis.

The graph below shows violent incidents that took place within a 50 metre radius of both Elegance and Wiggle for the period starting January 2011.

The figures are very interesting.

Elegance is a well established club and as you can it is marked in dark blue. Quite frankly, nothing happens in the area of this venue.

The graph for Wiggle has been sub-divided into two areas, red for the time before the club opened and pink to represent the time after its opening in September. You will see that in the time before Wiggle opened, Surrey Street was very dangerous, with some months having over 25 violent incidents. Now look at the time when Wiggle opened for trading. Incidents peak again then in the immediate weeks after opening, the number of violent incidents not only drop, but they practically flatline. For Wiggle it was decided to see what was happening in 2012 and once gain we can see violent incidents remain at a historic low.

Now people may say that three months hardly proves a trend, but something has changed and I think that I know what has happened. Wiggle has installed flood lighting and numerous cameras, which by themselves make an area safer, but the biggest difference has been made by the door staff who are constantly vigilant for any sign of trouble.

If Wiggle is closed, the lighting goes, the cameras switch off and the doorman will no longer be there to manage the club and most importantly, manage the street outside. If this happens, Surrey Street will once again become a hot spot for violent acts and it is inevitable that one day someone will get badly hurt.

I see from local press that the key issue about Wiggle is one of planning. I understand that there must be due process, but if the cost of such due process is the risk of a safe street becoming once more a dangerous one, then that cost is not worth paying.

There are people that will not accept the figures that I have presented, but they are welcome to verify them.

If Charlie Dacke and the Solent Feminist Network were any way genuinely committed to improving neighbourhoods and making  Portsmouth safer for women, they would not be doing everything in their power to ensure that Wiggle and every other club in Portsmouth is closed down.

In summary, Portsmouth Council have an opportunity to put public safety before subjective morality. It is my hope that they make the right decision, because if they do not, then council must bear the moral responsibility  for what happens in Sydney Street after Wiggle is closed. Lets look at the maths....

November 2011 - 17 Incidents 
December 2011 - 1 Incident.

Or put another way, a 95% decrease in violent incidents in four weeks.


  1. It will be interesting to see the Tower Hamlets figures too.

    1. Alan, the figures are on a spreadsheet but I am trying to get Police and Club information in those areas that have what appear to be issues. I don't need any further information on the Tower Hamlets venues so will put something out first about them in the next couple of days. Even the worst venue averages less than 3 violent crimes a month which considering the Borough and it's reputation is very good.

  2. In my own experience, striptease venues are far safer places than typical town centre pubs and clubs on a Friday or Saturday; and if I'm not mistaken, some senior police officers made similar observations as part of the consultation exercise on the current SEV legislation.