Wednesday, 23 December 2015

I’m going to report you!

There are plenty of things that occasionally go on in pubs which are either illegal or in contravention of some code of practice. People are sometimes heard to mutter about this and say “something really needs to be done about it”. So I thought it would be interesting to create a poll to see which of various “pub transgressions” they would personally report to the authorities, the results of which are shown below:

I suspect the results of this have been skewed by it being circulated around some anti-smoking group. I looked at it at one point where there were 52 responses, with a lowish score for “permitting smoking indoors” and either one or zero for “non-conforming smoking shelter”. Then later the same day, the total had shot up to 97, with strong votes for both of those options. So I’d say those results can be discounted and, frankly, if anyone actually reports a pub to the local council for having a non-conforming smoking shelter, let alone someone who claims to support pubs, they should be taken out and shot.

Of the other results, perhaps understandably “allowing drug dealing” was the highest scorer, but next was “consistently serving short measures”, although I wish you luck getting your hard-pressed local trading standards department to show any interest in that. Obviously serving drunk drivers and selling black market spirits also scored strongly, but people seemed much more willing to put up with turning a blind eye to prostitution.

However, as Phil says in the comments, “Interesting question, as it combines two separate things - "do you disapprove of X?" and "would you actually report somebody allowing X?” In practice, if a pub was allowing drug-dealing and prostitution, or full of underage drinkers, most people would probably just take their custom elsewhere. For most of the other things, if they liked the pub on other counts, they would be most likely to mutter into their beer but put up with it. One pub near me used to illegally show City matches when they were on at 3pm on Saturday afternoons. Now, I’d rather they didn’t, and I would avoid it on such occasions, but I wouldn’t dream of telling Sky.

In reality, the only circumstances under which I can see people reporting any of these things to the relevant authorities are if they had a grudge against the pub in question or wanted to settle a score. In general, British people have always been suspicious of vigilantism and informing on neighbours, especially now when the State seems to want to intrude ever further into our daily lives.


  1. I don't even know what a non-conforming smoking shelter is - and nor to most people I suspect.

  2. According to the regulations, a smoking shelter can only be enclosed up to 50% at the sides. There's one at a pub in the branch area that is not far from 100% enclosed, and a I remember a certain branch member who is a keen anti-smoker pointing this out on a Stagger. I said to him that I hoped he wouldn't report the pub for it, which I don't think he would have done.

    And one of our most popular and award-winning pubs has a smoking shelter that is rather obviously non-conforming too ;-)

  3. Oh right. I suspect that most people, like me, neither know nor care.

  4. When I next see you 2, I'll tell you all about the boozer near you that had it's smoking shelter closed after other pubs tried to object to the pub opening. Pubs with none compliant ones that have been open yonks. Oh and a fair few that had a visit from sky for running foreign satellite after other pubs (not punters) reported them to Sky.

    Reporting pubs is mainly other pubs sticking one on the opposition.

  5. Who's the sad sack who'd squeal for serving after time?

  6. What is after hours these days anyway?

  7. I must be a terrible human being as I doubt I would grass anyone up for any of the options, other than obviously serving drunk drivers, and serving short measures.

  8. You'd think these anti smokers might have stopped long enough to tick the drug dealing and serving drunk drivers boxes. Doesn't show them in a very good light.

  9. If you lived close to a pub whose licence conditions said it had to close at 11.30, but it regularly stayed open until 2 am at weekends, then you would have some justification for making an official complaint.

  10. Some bad grasses responding to that poll

  11. How can you tell if someone is a 'drunk driver' given that most pubs locally (E London) have no parking facilities - although Tesco and Macdonalds are local options with a couple of hours free parking. I've never heard anyone behind a bar ask someone a bit 'tipsy' if they have a car parked round the corner, but then I (regrettably) don't often get to rural areas.

    Pubs that get known for drug dealing tend to get raided by police and closed down. One locally is now a block of flats and another reopened under new management and is thriving.

  12. Wow, someone's still awake and coherent at half-past five on Christmas Day! Agreed - while it may seem a public-spirited thing to do, in practice it's very difficult to identify drunk drivers in pubs, as the police have long since worked out.

    The sort of situation I was thinking about is more one where you're a regular in a pub early doors on Friday evening, and you know, as does the landlord, that Harry comes in every week and downs six pints before driving home. But even there you would probably tell the police about Harry rather than the pub, and unless you held a grudge against Harry you might well try to have a word in both his ear and the landlord's first.

    And in answer to Alastair, you would find it very difficult to get Trading Standards interested in pursuing pubs for short measures, unless they routinely served pints with one-inch heads and refused top-ups. Some pubs do seem to deliberately serve short measures and rely on customers not asking for top-ups, but you can't get them for that.

  13. The one that annoys me is tap water law violations.

    I was annoyed in the two pubs (one in North London, one in inner city Birmingham - that also served curry so really should have had tap water - after a group of us had walked miles on canal walk - not ones I frequent) which wouldn't serve me free tap water - I had a cider or beer too I wasn't just going in and asking for water.

    (A lot of people think it's been the law for longer than it has, but licensed premises with mains water have been required to provide free tap water since the mid- to late 2000s, I can't remember the exact year).

  14. Aren't some of those shisha places more enclosed than the law would allow too, come to think of it?

  15. Just remembered - on the subject of Sky.

    Another pub on that Birmingham canal walk - our group basically took over empty pubs on a lot of that canal walk/pub crawl - had a sign on the door saying the management reserved to right to refuse entry to anyone including BSkyB employees ;)

    And didn't one pub in Portsmouth win a case based on EU law or something about showing football on foreign satellite TV?

  16. @Alex - a licensee would justifiably feel aggrieved if a large party of walkers came into his pub and ordered a round consisting entirely of tap water.

    If I were to do that I would feel morally obliged to put something across the bar for their trouble.


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