Devrae Noel-Simmons, owner of DPA Security Services. *File photo
Devrae Noel-Simmons, owner of DPA Security Services. *File photo
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A revitalised Pubwatch scheme could reduce gang-related violence in Hamilton city centre if everyone buys into the initiative.

Devrae Noel-Simmons, owner of DPA Security Services, told the Bermuda Sun a consistent approach to dealing with trouble-makers would make going out safer for everyone else.

Trouble

Concerns are so high some bar owners have now called for police to patrol inside bars at peak times to curb trouble.

The Pubwatch scheme relies on bar and club owners letting each other know if someone was refused service or caused trouble so the individual could not get into other establishments.

It failed to take off when it was originally launched  in Hamilton in 2007. But Mr. Noel-Simmons believes the scheme should try again — and has a part to play in tackling violence.

Mr. Noel-Simmons said: “It would definitely be a step up. People want to go out and they want to be able to relax without having to be tensed up and worried about whether there is going to be trouble.

“You have to have a standard and you have to stick to it.

“People can’t make exceptions — if they are only worried about the almighty dollar, they won’t stick to their standards and the entire scheme falls down.

“That’s where a lot of the bars fall short. I have worked in bars in the US and they would rather have 50 good people than 200 idiots on the premises.

“Pubwatch is a good idea because if someone is an idiot and has been kicked out of one bar, he won’t get into another. But each bar has to be responsible, that way people know what the standards are and what will happen if they fall short.”

But Phillip Barnett, whose Island Restaurant Group includes Pickled Onion, Hog Penny and Latin, said high levels of violence mean staff, including security staff, are not equipped to deal with the potential risk.

He called for special police teams to patrol bars and clubs at peak times.

Mr Barnett said: “It would go a long way to reassuring people and keeping a certain element at bay — not just gang members but people who are going to get stupid and cause trouble.”

He said reputable bars and clubs still operate an informal scheme to tip each other off about troublemakers. He added: “Bar owners and security people try very hard to keep certain individuals out.

“But the pretty intense violence in this day and age means staff and owners aren’t trained or prepared to deal with it.

“It has to be a police response because they are the people who are trained and equipped to deal with these kinds of problems.

“They are skilled and they know who many of these people are.

“As much as bar owners and staff try to create a very safe environment where people can still have fun, there will always be one or two individuals who try to be troublesome.”

Bootsie’s Comedy Club in Hamilton closed earlier this month. Boss Earlwin ‘Bootsie’ Wolffe said the club had become a hangout for Parkside gang members.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said: “As part of our ongoing response to gangs, guns, drugs and violence, Bermuda Police has a robust policing plan in place for monitoring the nighttime economy.

“We have increased police visibility in affected areas and our presence goes a long way in deterring criminal activity.

“We support the proactive efforts of license holders who are helping to enhance public safety by putting their own strong security measures in place.

“By keeping out drugs, weapons and violent patrons, they reduce the opportunity for disturbances.

“The police are committed to working with license holders who want to introduce such security measures — the responsibility of making bars and nightclubs safe starts with the owners themselves.”