Water machines for Exeter nightspots could reduce violent crime
WATER machines are to be installed in the city's pubs and clubs in a bid to reduce violent crime and disorder.
It is the first time such an initiative has been launched in the city.
The move follows a successful trial of the initiative in Gloucestershire which saw a massive reduction of crime as a result.
The H2O pilot – as it has been named – has been introduced by Exeter Night-time Economy Forum and will run for three months in Exeter until the end of the year.
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Pubs and clubs currently taking part in the initiative include Club Rococo, Mosaic, Arena, Timepiece and EX4.
Chairman of the ENTE forum and city centre manager John Harvey said the new initiative was part of a "package" of measures to make Exeter a safer place at night.
"The evidence is this initiative has worked in a number of other locations," he told the Echo.
"There has been a significantly reduced level of anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence and disorder. That is clearly a good thing.
"We should stress that the problems we have in the evenings are caused by a relatively small number of individuals. We need to be tough on them. Alcohol is not an excuse.
"It is important that we view this initiative as a package of measures."
The project is being funded by local firm Thirsty Work Ltd, which agreed to sponsor the pilot and provide water machines for the premises involved.
Funding has also been provided by the Social Health Improvement Programme to cover other costs, including purchasing cups.
Community safety sergeant for Exeter, Beverley Weston said: "This is a good display of partnership working towards solving some of the challenges the city faces.
"It is hoped the project will result in a reduction of alcohol-related crime and disorder within the city, as well as the potential health benefits of hydration."
Police say the pubs and clubs taking part have reported getting through a "staggering" amount of water, with many licensees having to purchase increasing amounts of cups.
And door staff say customers are quieter when leaving the premises and are stopping to take a drink on their way out.
However, Mr Harvey said the issue of people "preloading" on alcohol before they come out into the city was an issue which needs to be addressed.
"There is a significant number of people preloading with alcohol before they even reach the city centre," he said.
"Why are they getting served repeatedly by licensed premises to the point where they are a hazard to themselves and other members of the community? In my view it's not acceptable.
"This initiative is part of a whole range of things we have to do with the licensed premises."