Pubs with no cheer blamed for violence

November 27, 1998

Landlords who run dirty, untidy pubs may have their surroundings to blame for fights on their premises, new research suggests.

Claire Lawrence, lecturer in psychology and security management at Leicester University's Scarman Centre, believes the physical environment of a pub and people's reaction to, and expectations of, violence are strongly linked. She questioned around 200 people, describing several episodes of pub violence where, in each case, only one element differed.

In one instance the pub was tidy, in another it was run down. In one dialogue the landlord took a very firm line in dealing with the violence, in another he gently tried to defuse the situation. In each case the landlord was the victim attempting to deal with a conflict. People were asked to apportion blame for the escalating incident.

Dr Lawrence says that if a pub is dirty an onlooker is more likely to blame the landlord. "A dirty pub seems to send signals to people that anything goes," said Dr Lawrence.

She found that if the same questions were asked of landlords they tended to blame the landlord because they thought they could handle threats of violence themsleves. "We think this is a defensive reaction," she said.

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