Village public house
Case study one is a public house in a small, affluent village in the South of England. The landlord and landlady run the pub and also employ one bar person and one cleaner. The pub's busiest nights are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The pub is split into two bars; the bar and the lounge bar. Its clientele includes regulars as well as customers who travel from further afield, and they also have pool, darts, football and cricket teams. The Historical Society and garden and golf societies also use the pub.
What experiences do they have of violence in their premises?
Violence is not a huge problem for this pub although they have experienced some situations that have given rise to the potential for violence. Most aggressive/violent situations tend to be verbal abuse and threatening behaviour between customers as a result of too much alcohol as well as men arguing over women!
How do they manage violence?
The landlord and landlady have a zero tolerance policy on violence in their pub. When they first took over the pub they had to stand their ground in order to turn business around, as the previous landlord took a fairly 'hands off' approach and did not manage customer behaviour. The way in which they countered this was by making a point of keeping a presence in the pub by getting out and talking to customers, a policy which customers supported.
The landlord and landlady try to play the role of the host by talking to customers and mingling with them. Observation is crucial so that they are able to stop anything before it starts. They will stop serving customers if they feel that they have had too much to drink and violence towards any member of staff is not tolerated. They have found that customers tend to be protective over the staff and therefore are part of the protection process. Interestingly, they find that interventions by female members of staff work best when the arguments are between males.
The layout of the two bars means that they are able to keep an eye on both bar areas and that they can see who enters and leaves the bar. The till point is also positioned in the middle of the two bars and therefore staff constantly move between the bars. They have no CCTV or strategically placed mirrors as they feel that it is more important that they have a constant presence to avoid violence.
What impact does this have on the business?
Violence has been reduced in this pub since the current landlord and landlady took over, meaning that customers know that they can go to the pub without the possibility of any violence. The landlord and landlady also encourage their customers to be friendly towards each other to avoid conflict.
Top tips for other organisations
- listen/observe/be there
- prevention: stop a situation escalating into violence
- never step into someone's personal space
- do not cast blame
- do not become personally involved in customers' disagreements
- do not patronise customers