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Landlords' terror over pub attacks

PUBLISHED: 11:34 12 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

THREE Ipswich pub licensees fear for their lives following recent attacks and threats on their businesses and believe that if the police do not act soon someone could end up being killed.

THREE Ipswich pub licensees fear for their lives following recent attacks and threats on their businesses and believe that if the police do not act soon someone could end up being killed.

They're so frightened that they don't want us to identify them – or the area that has come under attack.

Their concerns follow recent alleged assaults and vandalism on their premises by a few men who have been identified to police.

Speaking at a meeting this week of Pubwatch, a group set up in 1997 to allow landlords and landladies to work together to ensure their venues are safe and friendly places to drink, three Ipswich publicans highlighted their fears.

One said: "About ten days ago three people walked in to my pub, one of who was banned. He is very violent, strong and a bit erratic.

"He walked in to my pub after six months and wanted a drink. He started rowing with me and went to assault me. Another person with him jumped over the bar and stole a lot of alcohol.

"He went up to a customer, pushed him off his stool and knocked him unconscious."

The men eventually left the pub but went round to another drinking hole, where they assaulted the landlord before returning to the first business.

The landlord of the second pub said: "On the outskirts of the town centre policing and response times are not as good as in the centre of town.

"It took them 15 minutes to get to my pub during which time I had been assaulted and threatened.

"At the moment things are getting so bad at our end of town there are knives, reports of guns and threats that our places will be bombed or torched."

The same group of men is believed to have been responsible for an attack on another pub the same night.

The landlord told the Pubwatch group: "The police response was so slow. They went outside and started kicking in the windows. They eventually went but came back the following night.

"They came back and smashed the pub to pieces. By the time they arrived the till was smashed the bar was smashed, the stools were smashed and they were threatening our lives."

The terrified landlord told The Evening Star: "If those people had got hold of me on Saturday night they would have killed me. That's how bad it has got. I would have gone home in a box."

All three pubs have been repeatedly threatened by the group and the publicans believe there is a realistic possibility of the threats being carried out. They warned the other licensees at the meeting that they believe these people are trying to take control of the pubs for their own gains.

One said: "They have said a car is going to be torched and driven through our doors. They are trying to get a syndicate going to run the pubs. When I took over my pub it was run by drug dealers but now I run it and some people don't like that so we're being threatened with our lives.

"They are carrying knives. We've heard they are carrying guns. They go berserk and smash our pubs up. They threaten our bands and customers. We just want to tell everyone to be aware."

A landlord added: "We're not living our own lives. All day we're looking out of our window scared of every car that comes in to the car park.

"We shouldn't have to live like this."

They are pleading with police to do something to end their nightmare and prevent any more damage or harm being done. One landlady even pays £400 for security staff to sleep in her pub at weekends

"They're still walking around," she said. "I want to know why. They're still driving past our pubs every day, so why can't the police find them and arrest them?

"This is going to end in someone being killed. We are terrified. We've been terrified for the past two weeks."

"We are all sticking together though," she added as a sign of their determination not to give in to these men. "I'm trying to do good for my pub and don't want bad publicity. Something needs to be done."

A force spokeswoman today defended Suffolk Police's response times. Police received an emergency call from one of the pubs just before 10pm on Friday, she said. "We dispatched three cars within two minutes and they arrived at the scene 12-and-a-half minutes later."

An Ipswich man was arrested that night and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage, possession of drugs with intent to supply and theft. He is due to answer police bail on August 14, she added.

Another man from Ipswich was arrested on Tuesday and charged with causing fear or provocation of violence and threats to commit criminal damage. He was due to answer bail at Ipswich Police station today.

The spokeswoman added: "Ipswich police are committed to working closely with the licensing trade. Regular meetings to discuss problems are held with licensees as part of the Pubwatch scheme.

"These meetings give licensees the opportunity to discuss any ongoing problems with each other and with police."

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