City cops accused of ‘bullying’
Complaints have been made against cops working around bars and clubs in Glasgow City Centre at weekends.
A letter sent to Strathclyde police by the Scottish Late-night Operators Association, a group who speaks for traders said an investigation needs to be launched into claims licensees are 'bullied, threatened and harassed by police'.
They also feel that are 'heavy-handed and aggressive'
The meeting was held on Wednesday night and was attended by 30 key players in Glasgow's pub and club scene.
The accusations could spell the end of a near decade-long partnership between police and the licensed trade.
Operators claim they are afraid to speak out individually, fearing they will be singled out and punished, but they have offered to give evidence collectively to the chief constable.
Dear Chief Constable
I write on behalf of the Late-night Operators Association in Glasgow city centre who wish to make a formal complaint with regard to the unreasonable behaviour of officers during visits to licensed premises over the past three weeks.
Glasgow's late-night operators have worked closely with the police with regard to many initiatives over the last 30 years and indeed over the past five years in particular, yet the actions of police over the past three weeks have put our relationship with police at an all-time low.
So strong is the feeling that 30 operators met this morning to discuss the issue and the serious effect it is having on their businesses.
Operators have been bullied, threatened and harassed by police at their premises. Here are some examples of just what has been happening: Badged stewards have been subjected to searches with metal detectors in front of the public, distressing those queuing. The stewards were all SIA badged. We believe this action is illegal. There was no "probable cause" for the searches. They were indiscriminate.
While the police were questioning stewards some premises have effectively been closed, on their busiest trading nights.
Police have instructed management to eject customers and, in fact, on four occasions took it upon themselves to eject customers, one stating: "I don't like the look of his face." Is that a good enough reason to eject someone?
Teams of officers have been charging into premises, prompting customers to believe that there was a serious incident, when in fact there was absolutely no reason for their actions.
This created panic as customers believed the premises were being raided.
Management at the premises have been insulted and told in no uncertain terms with the use of profanity to get out of the police's way.
Officers have been issuing threats to licensees - suggesting that licensees would be held to account for any incidences occurring outwith the immediate vicinity of the venue, whether it was miles away or not.
They have been threatened with "commanders warnings", "reports to the fiscal" and "section 31 suspensions".
A senior officer stated on a number of occasions "there is no partnership with the police, late night operators or the licensed trade there has been too cosy an arrangement".
On behalf of the operators I certainly hope this is not the case. We are responsible for the safety of some 40,000 people every weekend.
And we have embraced health and safety, safe stewarding, CCTV, training and our members are all involved with Best Bar None.
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.
Glasgow operators have been told to attend a seminar with the Divisional Commander on Tuesday, February 24. We would be very grateful if you could investigate these complaints and come back to me before this meeting on Tuesday.
The Divisional Commander said in a letter before Christmas: "As you are aware the most effective way of combating alcohol misuse and its consequences is by a co-ordinated partnership approach involving all interested parties of which the police and licence holders are two of the most crucial."
What can have changed so dramatically over the past three weeks to cause such a drastic change to this situation?
We can supply a list of the premises visited if you so wish. Indicative of the feeling towards the police at the moment is the fear by operators that if they speak out individually they will be singled out and punished, however, we would only be too happy to give evidence collectively.
We look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely Eddie Tobin.
On behalf of the Glasgow Late-night Operators Association.
LEADING nightclub operators in Glasgow have taken the unprecedented step of making unified allegations of police threats and harassment.
A formal complaint has been sent to Strathclyde Chief Constable Steve House detailing allegations, including threats to have premises in Glasgow city centre closed.
There are fears the accusations could spell the end of a near decade-long partnership between police and the licensed trade.
The complaint was made on behalf of the city's membership of the Scottish Late-night Operators Association, which includes CPL, owners of the Garage and Tunnel nightclubs, Lynnet Leisure, whose portfolio includes 29 and One Up, and Savoy owners Helena Leisure.