Changes To Venues Code of Conduct

Freshers’ Festival is very nearly here but before the festivities get underway we wanted to let you know about a number of changes that have taken place over the summer with regards to the Venues Code of Conduct.

I know, it’s not a sexy subject, but it’s one of the topics that comes up every single year when we conduct the Rate Your Union survey and we know that for those members who attend our venues this is a really important issue. In terms of a little context, the core aim of the Code of Conduct is to ensure you can have a safe night out in our venue while also clearly explaining our expectations of what is not acceptable and any potential repercussions from breaking the policy.

There’s also a legal element to the policy and we need to ensure we are meeting our obligations under the Licensing Act 2003.

What’s changed?

We’ve streamlined the policy as much as possible, removing jargon, detailing the process we take when individuals have not adhered to the policy and ensuring it is easy to understand. Further to this, we’ve created a detailed list of the most common types of misconduct that we encounter in the venues and the potential sanctions that may arise if an incident does occur.

The policy has also been extended to cover the Night Bus service. It’s incredibly important that staff and users of the bus feel safe and disorderly behaviour is simply unacceptable and we feel it should be treated the same as if this took place in a venue. In essence, by breaking the policy while riding the bus you could end up with an exclusion from the venue.

When we asked you what you wanted to see in the review of this policy back in April, a key theme was lighter sanctions for minor misconduct and tougher sanctions for major/serious misconduct. With that in mind we’ve totally re-worked our guidance on the sanctions that may be imposed, removing the majority of sanctions that included a charge – although this remains in place for vomiting due to intoxication to cover the cost of the cleaning kit – while also significantly increasing sanctions around the worst offences.

This has also included a change to how we treat the time scales of exclusions. Previously we operated on a calendar year timetable but this meant that an individual could potentially get an exclusion on the last day of term and then be eligible to enter the venue at the start of the new year. Instead, all exclusions are now based on term time weeks. An example of this in operation would be if you receive an exclusion on the last day of the academic year for discrimination, you may receive a 32 week exclusion that would see you excluded the following academic year.

We have always said that we operate a zero tolerance approach to misconduct in our venues and it’s time we lived up to that.

Another change is the regularity with which incidents are reviewed. Following investment within our Venues permanent staff team we’re now in a position to conduct reviews twice a week with the aim for these to take place on a Monday and a Thursday. This should ensure a much smoother and speedier process for anyone involved in an incident in the venue. This will enable us to maintain the comprehensive consideration of cases, whilst also responding to cases more efficiently.

What next?

The policy comes into force today and will apply for the new academic year. The key message here is that we want every one of our members to be able to enjoy their nights out in our venues and we’ll take a serious approach to those individuals that are intent on causing misconduct.

You can read the full policy below and if you’d like to have a direct input into this kind of decision making in the future, why not consider a role on the Events & Entertainment Service Development Group (SDG). Applications are now open until 4 October for these voluntary roles where you’ll be able to input on key decisions across all of our events programmes, Summer Ball, security and more.

Jack O'Neill // President