Sheffield councillors vote against licensing measures to help reduce knife crime, street drinking and sexual abuse

Measures to encourage licensed premises to help reduce knife crime, street drinking and sexual abuse on their sites have been voted against by councillors in Sheffield.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 8:33 am

Sheffield Council’s licensing statement will be updated for the first time in around five years after it was approved at a recent full council meeting.

But amendments proposed by the Green Party to add policies on knife crime and sexual harassment and keep a list of areas nearing stress will not be included after it was voted against.

Under the proposed policies, applicants would have been required to consider proportionate and practical measures to reduce knife crime and protect members of the public from sexual harassment.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sheffield Town hall.

Councillor Douglas Johnson, leader of the Sheffield Green Party and member of the licensing committee, said: “I think they are important issues and it would be wrong for the council to turn a blind eye to those.

“These are three issues where licensing policy can have an important consideration and it seems wrong that the licensing policy should ignore those.”

This was supported by Liberal Democrat councillor Joe Otten.

Coun Otten said: “I think they are important issues and it’s better to raise them now than not at all.

Coun Douglas Johnson

“I don’t agree these things are ignored in the current policy, the applicants must have regards to security and this is adding something they must have regard for. There is no harm in asking them to be considerate of impacts on knife crime.

“On sexual harassment, it is probably already covered in the policy but it is an important issue and there is no harm done by raising this and asking applicants to have consideration for how they would help a person who needs to get away from somebody who is perceived as a threat to them while on their premises.”

But Labour Party councillors disagreed.

Coun Karen McGowan, chair of the committee, said: “I’m amazed the amendment has been brought today when the Greens had ample opportunity to raise these issues at the committee. We had two meetings that were over two hours long each where it was all discussed.

“The Greens never raised any issues on knife crime or sexual harassment at either of those meetings.

“South Yorkshire Police did not raise knife crime as an issue, Sheffield is one of the safest city centres in the UK.

“On sexual harassment and domestic abuse, I just want to give assurance that we do take it seriously and we have systems in place.”

Coun Andy Bainbridge added: “I’m disappointed, to put it mildly, that two members of the committee – the only members to vote against it – decided to bring an amendment to this council against it.

“That doesn’t appear very democratic to me and, indeed, if we think about the fact the people bringing it believe in a committee system for the council, this calls into question whether that would actually work.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.