Brighton’s gay bars rethink security as violence escalates

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Gay venues in Brighton are introducing revolutionary measures to prevent violent attacks as disorderly behaviour continues to rise in the city.

Innovative new identification devices are planned for numerous bars and clubs as Brighton’s gay scene fights back against increasing aggression and violence.

V2 Club and sister venue Vavoom are the first gay venues in Brighton to install new ID Scan technology, which scans customers passports or driving licenses to spot known troublemakers.

“I’m introducing ID Scan as a deterrent against potential violence,” Alan Barrett, owner of V2 Club told “No ID means no entry. I want to ensure that late night drinking remains safe, pleasant and comfortable for our customers.”

Both venue owners and the police are suggesting that the increase in violence in the ‘gay village’ is due to many gay bars enjoying late licenses, which attracts heavy drinkers, non-gay tourists and groups of straight lads to the area.

“Although alcohol-related violence is down generally, there has been an increase in violence in gay venues,” says Lisa Timerick, Sussex Police LGBT Liaison Officer. “Because gay venues have later licenses, straight drinkers from the West Street area of town are heading to the gay Kemp Town area.”

Creation nightclub, one of the biggest venues on West Street, was one of the first venues in the UK to introduce ID Scan technology earlier this year and evaluation reports indicate it has been a success. However, the club admits that turning people away at one venue may simply lead to the problem being passed on to other clubs. “It does work as a deterrent,” said Jayson Alford, Deputy General Manager at Creation. “But the problem is that if lads can’t get into our club, they can’t get into anywhere else in West Street as we share information about trouble makers with other venues. Therefore they head to the gay scene.”

Chris Marshall, who manages Charles St, one of the biggest bars on the Brighton gay scene says that he is aware of the problem. “We have a policy of no hen parties or groups of straight lads anyway,” he said. “You only have to look what happened to Canal Street in Manchester a few years ago when it was overrun by hen nights – we don’t want to go that way. Our door policy is under review constantly and if violence increases, we increase our safety measures.”

One of Brighton’s oldest gay pubs, The Bulldog, is also planning to introduce an ID system to prevent violence. In a statement, the pub said: “Our 63 hour marathon opening weekends have been suspended while we implement a system to keep those spoiling it for others into action. In time we will introduce an ID system. You must have an ID card or a membership card to enter the Bulldog after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.”

The initiative has already come under criticism from some drinkers, who fear that the personal data they are being forced to give venues might be used inappropriately.