Ipswich nightclubs search people's bags as spiking incidents increase

Revolution were part of an effort to push safety in the nighttime economy in Ipswich

Revolution were part of an effort to push safety in the nighttime economy in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich nightclubs have joined forces with emergency services to show how people can stay safe in the town after concerns on night-time safety were raised. 

Revolution and Bar21 have opened up about their enhanced measures, including door searches after 30 spiking reports to Suffolk police last month - and some venues are scanning ID.

Each of the Ipswich bars is also alleged to have had its own incidents of drinks being tampered with following allegations made by customers. 

Revolution in the Cattle Market, Ipswich has introduced searching stations. 

Revolution in the Cattle Market, Ipswich has introduced searching stations. - Credit: Archant

PJ Bartle, general manager at Revolution, in the Cattle Market, said: "We look for everything. We operate a two search police, empty your pockets coming in, put everything in a container to minimise contact coming in and we have three metal ones as well.

"We have introduced bodycams as well. 

"If anything happens in our welfare room we have a bodycam present to show conversation we've been having and we're administering first aid properly. We have 11 security staff on tonight.

"We give out stop tops and they can request one. We have pictures on the front door and Instagram stories. 

"All security staff have been trained - we have a 12-step process administered by the council and staff have been retrained.

"There's a lot of safety measures in place to keep the public safe. 

Most Read

"And we have ID scanners now. We don't tend to use Army IDs as they don't scan into the system. 

"We scan people in and we can see when people leave and if there is any investigation we can look at the time they come in and marry it up with CCTV.

"We've also introduced welfare officers.

"Some people feel worried but there is a lot of positive things that have come off the back of it."

Gareth Harper has opened a Tapas bar in former Degeros site in St Nicholas Street

Inside the new Bar Twenty One - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Shaun Hammett, who manages security at Bar21 in St Peter's Street, said on Friday: "We check all the female's bags and males empty their pockets. 

"It slows up people getting in but it's safety at the end of the day. 

"As long as we keep on top of it we're fine.  

"All the door staff here have all been doing it for 25 years. We have a 100 years' experience between us and we know the older faces so we're all alright.

"We would keep a very drunk girl with us. We would call the town pastors to help us. 

"If she's bad we would keep the police here. It's about being on top of it, especially the younger females but we don't get so much of them. They usually go to Unit 17 or Rev's."

The Plough, in Dog's Head Street, Ipswich re-opened after a refurbishment. Picture: DAVE VINCENT

The Plough, in Dog's Head Street, Ipswich re-opened after a refurbishment. Picture: DAVE VINCENT - Credit: Archant

Paul Bird, from the Plough, which has also had a spiking report, said the pub in Dogs Head Street put in place stoppers on drinks. 

He said: "We always run it really tight, we've always had the Ask Angela [where women can ask the bar staff for Angela and get help] and always gone around and make sure everyone's okay. 

"We haven't had to really introduce anything different as we've always operated those policies.

"It's 20 years I've been doing this, nothing's changed my point of view.

"When people say they're introducing these measures, they should have been doing them anyway. 

"The problem is a lot of the youngsters, haven't been drinking. 

"A lot of people are not used to it and they don't remember how much they've drunk and that can be a problem, can't it?"

An ID scanner at Revolution in the Cattle Market, Ipswich

An ID scanner at Revolution in the Cattle Market, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Each year police also take to the streets during Christmas to remind people of how best to get home safe, provide them with drinks stoppers, alarms in case of incidents and help bars, taxis, hotels and fast food places put forward best practices. 

During a patrol with the Ipswich Star on Friday, all businesses were aware of how to get people to help if they are in distress and how best to keep customers safe in the town centre. 

Michael Small, community engagement officer at Suffolk police, said after Covid it has been "quite tricky" for those experiencing going out for the first time.

Michael Small, community engagement officer at Suffolk police

Michael Small, community engagement officer at Suffolk police, giving a briefing to Ipswich Borough Council, St John's Ambulance, Suffolk police, town pastors and Ipswich nightclubs. - Credit: Archant

He said these younger people may not be aware of the presence of officers, town pastors, who ensure the drunk and distressed Ipswich revellers are safe, and St John's Ambulance can be found easily in the town centre at the weekend. 

By working with these partner organisations, Suffolk police also get drunk people help as the Ipswich Star witnessed when a very drunk man was taken in a wheelchair safely by the St John's Ambulance to get rest at a hotel, which allowed police to continue their patrols around the town. 

Mr Small also said: “We are encouraging licensed premises to conduct increase bag checks, also asking them to ensure their CCTV is of a good quality and their system is working.

"The education and awareness of staff in licenced premises is also important so they have a sound understanding of being able to spot the signs as well as the need for secure handling of glasses and drinks from a forensic point of view.

"Violence against women and girls is a hugely complex topic and can encompass various elements such as domestic abuse, stalking, harassment as well as sexual and violent crime.

St John's Ambulance staff have a presence every weekend in the town centre

St John's Ambulance staff have a presence every weekend in Ipswich town centre - Credit: Archant

"Suffolk police will continue to work with partners to do everything we can to help victims and we regularly monitor and analyse where, when and what type of crime occurs so we can ensure our response is dynamic and effective. 

"We understand how crucial it is for people to have confidence in us, to trust us, believe they will be treated sympathetically, and be given the support and help they need.”

St John's Ambulance deals with everything from blisters to spiking and drunk people are stationed at the Buttermarket to help. 

It's doing a campaign at the moment to prevent admissions to A&E by preventing incidents in the town centre. 

Town pastors volunteer to ensure that drunk and distressed Ipswich revellers are safe

Town pastors volunteer to ensure that drunk and distressed Ipswich revellers are safe - Credit: Archant

Paul Laughlin, from Ipswich town pastors, who are out from 10pm until around 4pm, said: "We are out with people who are lost, have had too much to drink and are task is just to stay with people until they improve because they are not going into a taxi until they are sober. 

"It relieves others of a task when they have something to do. Police call us to sit with people when they need to get on with other things. 

"We're mainly from churches and other voluntary organisations."