Security staff will be on patrol in Wisbech town centre later this month to help prevent any alcohol-related trouble on the evenings that England play their opening two World Cup group matches.
A “street marshal” scheme has been set up by Fenland District Council, working in close partnership with the town’s Pubwatch and Shopwatch members and a local security firm. The taxi trade is also backing the project, which has been welcomed by the police.
The Government has relaxed licensing laws to enable pubs to stay open beyond their normal permitted hours on England match days.
England play Italy in their first game on Saturday, June 14, with the kick-off set for 11pm. Their second match is against Uruguay on Thursday, June 19 (kick-off 8pm).
On both days staff from SWC Security will be deployed as street marshals around the town. They will keep in touch with the licensees via Pubwatch and Shopwatch radio links and maintain direct contact with FDC’s CCTV control centre and the police.
The marshals will also link up with a taxi marshal who will be working with members of the local Taxiwatch scheme to help ensure that there is enough safe transport in and out of the town.
In addition to the marshalling, the pubs have agreed between them to stagger closing times to prevent customers all spilling out on to the streets at the same time.
Pubwatch and Shopwatch members are footing most of the bill for the operation, with the rest being covered by a significant subsidy from SWC Security.
Councillor David Oliver, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for licensing, said: “England World Cup matches are always great occasions and there are bound to be a lot of people turning out to watch them in the pubs.
“We want people to be able to go there with family and friends and have a good time in a safe and secure environment. Passions always run high, which is fine, but we’re looking to make sure they don’t lead to any antisocial behaviour.
“All these groups have shown a lot of initiative in teaming up with our licensing team to pull this project together and it’s great that they’ve underlined their commitment by putting up all the money to pay for it themselves.”
Kerry Burton of Pubwatch said: “It’s in all our interests to do what we can to encourage more people into the town. That boosts the whole local economy - we all benefit from working together rather than just focusing purely on our own individual business.”
Insp Alan Boughen, Fenland’s temporary inspector of operations, said: “We welcome this joint project, which shows how seriously the various trades are taking their responsibilities and how keen they are to support us and the council in helping to keep the community safe.
“There will be extra police patrols out in towns and cities across the county before, during and after England matches. Officers will provide a friendly presence but anyone who is violent or behaves anti-socially will be dealt with robustly.
“We want everyone to enjoy the football but people should drink sensibly and we will be visiting pubs and clubs to ensure they are complying with their licensing obligations.”