Search

‘We have to be more positive about town’, says nightclub boss

Will Hodge, manager of Unit 17, Ipswich with the airport style security gates which are helping to ensure a safe night for young clubbers. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Will Hodge, manager of Unit 17, Ipswich with the airport style security gates which are helping to ensure a safe night for young clubbers. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

A nightclub manager has endorsed Ipswich as a safe place to visit at night and hopes others will help ‘push a more positive message’ about the town.

Suffolk Police PD Morse was out on the streets of Ipswich on traditionally the town's busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil DidsburySuffolk Police PD Morse was out on the streets of Ipswich on traditionally the town's busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Will Hodge, manager of Unit 17, said bad news was bound to spread wider and more quickly than good news about the town.

The Town Pastors were out walking the streets of Ipswich, assisting those who were struggling on traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe Town Pastors were out walking the streets of Ipswich, assisting those who were struggling on traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mr Hodge was speaking as we joined the 'night time economy team' on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Suffolk Police mascot PD Morse with some of the night time economy team who patrolled the streets of Ipswich on traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil DidsburySuffolk Police mascot PD Morse with some of the night time economy team who patrolled the streets of Ipswich on traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Police, borough council officers, Town Pastors and ambulance staff were in regular contact around the town's most popular nightspots on Saturday night.

The night time economy team were out in force in Ipswich on Saturday night, the busiest night of the year, keeping party-goers safe. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe night time economy team were out in force in Ipswich on Saturday night, the busiest night of the year, keeping party-goers safe. Picture: Neil Didsbury

At their disposal, police had the power to issue a Section 35 Dispersal Order, excluding people from the area for up to 48 hours, to remove or reduce the likelihood of crime or disorder.

Bars and clubs across Ipswich were busy on Saturday night on what is traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil DidsburyBars and clubs across Ipswich were busy on Saturday night on what is traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Unit 17 has strict entry controls, including a security arch and identity scanner.

Outside the popular Unit 17 nightclub, Suffolk Police with a visible presence on traditionally the busiest night of the year.  Picture: Neil DidsburyOutside the popular Unit 17 nightclub, Suffolk Police with a visible presence on traditionally the busiest night of the year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mr Hodge said: "People were initially apprehensive about the arch, but it's been really well received and we get good feedback, including from parents of our younger clientele, who think it's a proactive way of safeguarding."

Mr Hodge sits on a banning committee of licensees, police and council representatives, while staff are tuned into the Town Link radio system to keep in contact with authorities and other venues.

"It's a level-headed approach to taking action," he said.

"I'm really pleased with the relationship between licensing bodies, the police and council.

"In life, if you're fair to someone, they'll generally be fair to you. We engage with each other, rather than have a 'them and us' attitude.

"Working in tandem and having a close relationship can only be beneficial for the town.

"You can never predict something happening, but you can try to nip it in the bud before it does. If we're observant and proactive, we can do that.

"I think Ipswich is generally a really safe place to come out.

"I've worked in a few towns and cities, where there are high levels of disorder in high streets.

"It's better than a lot of the places I've seen - even on nights considered public order priorities.

"The incidents we see here are isolated, but bad news spreads better than good news. People are more likely to respond online to someone being stabbed than hundreds of people enjoying themselves without incident.

"We have to better at pushing a positive message."

Before we joined the night time economy team, Inspector Becky Kidd-Stanton said officers were out to engage with the public, not wait for someone to step over the line.

"We want everyone to go home - not cells full of people," she said.

"However, if people are warned about their behaviour and continue, they can be removed from the town centre or arrested, if necessary.

"Businesses are an integral part of ensuring people have a safe night out.

"This is about early intervention; talking to door supervisors at the start of the evening, and supporting licensed premises."

Mr Hodge said: "At this time of year, we get people who are not used to drinking.

"We've all been in a position where we've had too many. I'd like to think someone would be there to pick my children up if they were vulnerable.

"It's great that the Town Pastors are around to focus on the vulnerable."


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star