THUGS and drug dealers who offend in and around city centre nightspots are set to be banned immediately from all its pubs and clubs in the first move of its kind in Scotland.
Police will now seek special bail conditions from the moment of arrest to prevent suspects from entering venues until their case reaches court.
Once in court, the procurator fiscal will seek the same bail conditions until the case is concluded.
Previously, offenders only faced such exclusions once they were found guilty in a courtroom.
Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have joined forces to create the unique crack down, which is set to run indefinitely in Edinburgh. Those awaiting court appearances who flout their bail conditions by entering any bar or club face immediate arrest and prosecution. Officers carry out regular bail checks in the Capital as part of their daily duties.
The tough move is part of the Think Twice campaign, aimed at deterring alcohol-related offences.
Superintendent Matt Richards said: “The Think Twice initiative aims to keep people safe by excluding those charged with a relevant offence from city centre nighttime drinking venues until court proceedings are concluded.
“We also anticipate that public awareness of Think Twice will act as a deterrent. These incidents are often spontaneous in nature and it is hoped that awareness of the potential consequences of bad choices will encourage drinkers to ‘think twice’, reflect on their behaviour and avoid confrontation.
“A nighttime ban on entering the city centre’s drinking venues will have a significant impact on a person’s social life.”
In the most serious cases, fiscals will oppose bail altogether, although bail decisions remain matters for sheriffs.
Andrew Richardson, procurator fiscal for summary cases in the east of Scotland, said: “Residents of Edinburgh, as well as visitors, should be free to enjoy the nightlife that the city has to offer without fear of the inconsiderate minority. Anyone who thinks drunkenness is an excuse for crime will find themselves very much mistaken.
“In all cases involving alcohol-related offences, as soon as the case calls in court prosecutors will either oppose bail or seek to have these bail conditions imposed. A breach of these conditions is a criminal offence it itself, and will be taken very seriously.”
The Scottish Government-backed Think Twice campaign was set to be launched today at the CAV nightclub in Tollcross by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Mr MacAskill said: “This initiative shows that our police and prosecutors will take robust action against the small minority who seek to cause harm and disorder.”
Hate crime, drugs and violence
HATE crimes and sexual offences will also trigger the bail bans covering city centre venues.
Other offences linked to public safety where bail prohibitions will be sought include violence, serious disorder, carrying knives or offensive weapons, culpable and reckless conduct and drug supply. The conditions will not be used for minor offences like breach of the peace, or when fixed penalty notices are issued for antisocial behaviour. But if an individual has previous convictions for violent crime, or where a clear intention to cause serious harm is apparent, the condition will be requested.