Wimbledon pubs respond to plans to breathalyse drinkers before they enter bars

With a successful pre-Christmas trial run in Croydon, plans to breathalyse people before they enter bars and clubs are popular with police but what about publicans and punters?

You won’t have to be stone-cold sober to enter a bar as the threshold will be set at twice that of the legal drink driving limit, allowing pub crawlers to continue but banning legless louts.

The measure, which could potentially be rolled out city wide, aims to end ‘pre-loading’ where revellers get tanked-up before they head out, and to reduce incidents of alcohol-related violence and injury.

Jolyan, 20, who works in the Prince of Wales pub in Wimbledon, said: “The skeptic in me says I don’t think it will work.

“I don’t think people are going to take kindly to being asked to take a breathalyser test. Our doormen are on the ball, if they thought someone was intoxicated they would refuse them entry.

“I think it’s stupid, one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard.”

“Pubs are a business – it’s hard to refuse paying customers. If a lot of people were refused entry then you are basically turning people in the direction of some other pub.”

Lee, 22, who works in the Wimbledon Wetherspoons sees the positive in improving working conditions for staff by turning away drunk customers.

“It would be easier for both customers and staff. Staff wouldn’t have to refuse to serve people and customers wouldn’t have to deal with these people who make life tough on everyone knocking glasses and falling over,” he said.

“If they get refused at the door it reduces so much aggravation for everyone. If you can only have a certain amount to drink when you’re out then people will just go somewhere else or go home to drink, it won’t stop people drinking as much.”

Not everyone is a fan of the proposed scheme though, when pubs and clubs already have safeguards, in the form of door staff, to protect workers and other clubbers from those too drunk to behave responsibly.

Freddie, 30, from Majestic Wine Warehouses, said: “I think it’s stupid, one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard.

“If someone is really drunk then obviously they shouldn’t be let in, the motto ‘we serve drink not drunks’ always applies in bars and clubs.

“Going as far as breathalysing them rather than using the doorman’s discretion is a bit too far.

“If you upset someone who is drunk they are far more likely to fly off the handle also. That’s a big amount of people and money for a bar to be turning away anyway.”

Some publicans aren’t just worried about damaging trade, but also their relationship with customers.

“You can’t just tell someone that they can’t come in, you would probably get your head knocked off.”

Mary, 45, from The Kilkenny Tavern in South Wimbledon, said: “I think it’s wrong. You’re intruding on a person’s privacy.

“If you think they’ve had too much to drink you would just kindly ask them to leave. You can’t just tell someone that they can’t come in, you would probably get your head knocked off.

“Nobody serves anyone that’s drunk anyway. If anyone came in falling around the place I’d throw them out, simple as. I don’t think it’s the pub’s job to be breathalysing people, they would be getting all sorts of abuse off people.”

Picture courtesy of John Garghan, with thanks

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