The Best Bar None scheme was brought into the city over 10 years ago to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder by the Drug and Alcohol/Domestic Abuse Coordination Team. It’s now aimed towards improving safety and building relationships among night time premises. Pubs, nightclubs, and late bars can all choose to take part- among the many are Corporation, Tank, Paris, Tiger Works, the Benjamin Huntsman, Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union, and the O2 Academy.
Each year a Best Bar None awards ceremony is run to celebrate best practice among the venues.
Those on the list may surprise some, however Best Bar None co-ordinator Tracey Ford is fully behind every winner.
She said: “BBN is essentially about how premises are managed and how they look after customers. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t understand. A classic example is Banker’s Draft; It might not be the location you’d choose for a night out, but the landlord there absolutely, thoroughly deserved to win the pub category. He’s in a location where there’s a lot of anti-social behavior, yet he manages that. He’s involved in loads to help train his staff in dealing with those who may be rough sleeping or if anyone comes in begging. All the things that you might not associate with the night time economy are the things pubs are dealing with on a daily basis.”
This year’s winner of ‘Best Overall’, ‘Best Nightclub’, ‘Best Independent’ and ‘People’s Choice’ was Tank.
Owner Kate Baxendale said: “It’s all about sharing what we do. Yes, the awards are a bit of a competition, but we’ve all joined forces because while Sheffield is doing well, it means more people want to come to us because they know we have well-run and safe premises.”
Sheffield’s scheme has more independent premises sign-ups than chains.
Tiger Works owner Joanne Zsirai said the scheme is essential to making sure her independent business is running exactly how it should.
She said: “Best Bar None helps with paperwork and a lot of the behind-the-scenes side of things. When you get the list of things you should be doing from the scheme, you’re more in control and we just keep it going. Every year we learn something new that we should be doing.”
Tiger Works manager Lee Mansell has worked with the scheme for around nine years.
He said: “The owners of Plug really got into BBN when I was working there and ever since then it’s been drilled into my head that we need to be part of this scheme. We’ve done it every year from then on. It’s helped us with staff training on issues such as dealing with drunkenness and has sent us on all sorts of training courses. I’ve done nearly every course with BBN, from drugs all the way to bomb scare training.”
Ask for Angela was introduced to the city in 2017 and unlike other cities, premises in Sheffield can only advertise that they run the scheme if staff members have been trained up by BBN to do so.
Tracey added: “It shows that our premises care about their customers and don’t want anyone to end up in an uncomfortable position.”
Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union works closely with the scheme to ensure its students are safe on every night out.
Its Hideout bar has been accredited with the prestigious Gold Award from the NUS Best Bar None Campaign, scoring 100% on the national assessment.
The union’s conference manager Janet Heiser has also received a special recognition award for her services to support the Best Bar None scheme across the country.
She said: “It’s great for parents to know that their children are safe. When students enter any BBN accredited premises they know they are entering a safe environment and will be looked after.”
Hallam alumnus Harry Preston agreed.
He said: “It’s all about the welfare of students. From a parent point of view, it’s a big step for their students to leave a family home to come to Sheffield. It’s the fact that you can go anywhere on a night out knowing you won’t have to deal with constant issues that other places may face and actually enjoy it, rather than having to worry about what might happen.”
The BBN community also spreads the word that visitors have nothing to be afraid of when it comes to knife crime in the city, and insists most incidents are isolated.
Richard Dyson, MD of Pro-Active Security works closely with Tank.
He said: “Premises have to keep up with what’s happening around them. We noticed the spurt in knife crime then looked at what we could do to prevent that from coming into premises and creating a safe environment for people.”
Head of commercial services at Sheffield Hallam, Chris Liddell believes Sheffield is just as safe as it has been in previous years.
He said: “Because technology has increased so much, you hear a lot more these days than you would have years before. Issues get out onto social media quicker and every single incident gets reported instantly, so people are more aware of the dangers and pitfalls on nights out, and choose to be on their guard more.”
Tracey Ford would like more people to get involved with the scheme.
She said: “We can’t work in isolation, we all have to work in partnership. Best Bar None is about encouraging best practice, supporting venues, sharing good practice and making sure that everybody is on the same page.”