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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Police lick crime with lollies
Pubs are playing a last happy tune as drinkers are handed their lollies
Revellers in Southampton are enjoying free lollipops from police to try to keep the streets sweet at closing time.

Bouncers and police officers are handing out the treats to drinkers as they spill out of nightspots in the city centre in the hope of cutting violence.

Pubs and clubs are also playing happy music - including children's television themes - during last orders as part of the new campaign.

The Southampton force says the lollipops have already started to cut crime since their introduction two weekends ago.

Lollipops were used some years ago by police to calm rowdy partygoers in Devon and at London University.

'Basic principle'

Lucy Dibden, of Southampton police, told BBC News Online: "It's a very basic principle - eating a sweet and listening to sweet music works on the brain and stops people getting into confrontational situations.

"It's too early to make an accurate assessment, but the general trend seems to be that the campaign is keeping people sweet as they leave clubs and pubs."

People would rather have a kebab than a lolly after a night out drinking
Mark Vanvugt

But a psychologist at Southampton University said he believed the idea was nonsense.

Mark Vanvugt, senior lecturer in social psychology, told BBC News Online: "The music might work, as this very certainly has a calming influence, but the lollipop idea is just absurd.

"It might even evoke an angry reaction from some people who feel that the police could better spend their money elsewhere.

"You have to consider who is most likely to accept the lollies - probably girls and they are not the ones who start fights.

"People would rather have a kebab than a lolly after a night out drinking."

Mr Vanvugt said it was important police consult experts before embarking on experiments.

"Before taking these wild ideas and turning them into a campaign, perhaps the police should consult psychologists to talk about what may or may not work.

"The best way to avoid alcohol-related violence is to introduce flexible closing times so people don't leave pubs all at the same time."



Lollipops stop noisy students
15 Dec 99  |  Education

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