Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Police deny bullying club owners

Police patrol
Police have denied using heavy-handed tactics in Glasgow nightclubs

A senior Strathclyde Police officer has denied allegations that officers have "bullied" and "threatened" members of the Glasgow's license trade.

Ch Supt Anne McGuire said the force had worked with the industry to improve safety and cut criminality.

A letter of complaint from the city's Late Nigh Operators Association against officers from her division has been sent to the chief constable.

It lists concerns from members about "unreasonable behaviour" from officers.

The letter, written by Eddie Tobin, alleges "heavy-handed" behaviour from officers from A Division, which is headed by Ch Sup McGuire.

Mr Tobin said feelings were "so strong" that 30 members of the association had met to discuss "the serious effect" it was having on their businesses.

Police have been heavy-handed, rude, obnoxious, aggressive and have shown a complete disregard for our businesses
Eddie Tobin
Licensee
He states that "operators have been bullied, threatened and harassed by police at their premises".

He also accuses police of conducting "indiscriminate searches" of security staff and of "charging in" to premises, giving the impression that problems existed when everything was fine.

His letter concludes: "The actions over the last three weeks would suggest Glasgow is now a police state.

"Police have been heavy-handed, rude, obnoxious, aggressive and have shown a complete disregard for our businesses."

'Partnership approach'

Mr Tobin has asked Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House to reply to the letter before licensees attend a seminar with police next week.

Ch Supt McGuire issued a statement saying she had worked to "build on the partnership approach" that had already existed with the city's licensed trade.

She said: "There are in the region of 900 licensed premises in the division.

Ch Sup Anne McGuire
Licensees must take responsibility for their premises and customers
Ch Supt Anne McGuire
Strathclyde Police

"Most of these are well run but a very small number take up a disproportionate amount of police time dealing with incidents that occur inside, or that arise within a short time of customers leaving.

"Licensees must take responsibility for their premises and customers and I am committed to assist and support them in their efforts. Partnership is the only way that this can happen."

Ch Supt McGuire said she had taken a "structured approach" to dealing with problem premises.

This had involved "supportive visits to highlight issues of concern and to recommend actions" followed by "compliance visits".

Where issues had not been addressed, premises were "subject to a robust programme of inspection".

Ch Supt McGuire said all the action by officers had "been done as part of my duty to maintain the safety of the public and to ensure compliance with licensing legislation".

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