Traders hit back at road's 'completely unjust' reputation for violence
PUBLISHED: 11:25 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:54 10 October 2019
Almost 12 crimes are reported near nightclubs in Norwich's clubland every week, according to new figures - but traders say its reputation as a dangerous area is "completely unjust".
According to the Home Office data, there were 618 crimes reported around venues on and near Prince of Wales Road from August 2018 to July 2019.
In the last three years there have been 1,811 reported near venues in total, with the number fluctuating slightly - 548 were recorded in 2017/18 and 645 in 2016/17.
The most common crimes recorded are - perhaps unsurprisingly - violent and sexual offences and anti-social behaviour.
The street has long had a reputation for being troublesome, but Andy Gotts, chairman of Late Night Norwich, a group representing independent traders who want to raise issues and tackle challenges, says its reputation is unfair.
"People definitely want to shake off the reputation," he said, "but it is well and truly ingrained. The reputation as far as violence is concerned is just completely unjust. The one for the condition of the road is arguable."
Mr Gotts, who runs the Fluke and Envy clubs, said schemes put in place around scams and breathalysing, as well as the Ask Angela initiative, where people can ask for Angela at a bar if they need help, were increasing safety.
"No one thing solves the challenges alone, but collectively it helps," he said.
It was echoed by Steve King, who runs Stadia sports bar and nightclub, and said it was a different picture to several years ago.
"In the early 1990s it was pretty violent, very violent compared to now," he said. "We might eject a few people on a Saturday night, but rarely do we have a fight. You are safer than you were then, by a mile.
"People have this perception of Prince of Wales as a dangerous area, but I just don't see that level of violence anymore."
Those living off the area may disagree - concerns over anti-social behaviour and violence remain, particularly around areas such as King Street.
But work is ongoing - in 2017 the street was given Purple Flag status, a mark of somewhere offering a safe, diverse and enjoyable night out.
A key part of the crackdown on crime on Prince of Wales Road is the police response.
Norwich police's chief inspector Sonia Humphreys said that despite a rise in national crime figures, the levels of reported crime from around the clubland area had remained fairly stable over the last five years.
She said they were continuing work to ensure people remained safe.
"Our officers work out in the community to try and raise awareness around ways to remain safe and report crime with recent examples of such work undertaken at the UEA for students during freshers' week," she said.
"Every weekend a proactive high visibility policing presence works alongside partners including licensing, venues, security staff and voluntary services such as the SOS bus and Safe Haven and together we seek to ensure that visitors, staff and residents alike have a safe and enjoyable experience whilst out in the city centre."