A SCHEME designed to safeguard drinkers in Camberley is toughening up in a bid to further crack down on troublemakers in the area.

Pubs and clubs taking part in the Pubwatch scheme are to be linked via radio to quickly track individuals causing a disturbance, in the hope of creating a safer environment for those enjoying a drink.

Police have become frustrated at the number of persistent offenders ignoring ban notices issued to them and returning to cause trouble on a regular basis.

Licensees of the pubs and clubs in the town have been closely involved in the scheme for more than a year, meeting once a month with police to discuss those who should be served with a ban.

Terms can range from a few months to a life ban from all of the participating licensed premises and, although not legally binding, build on landlords' powers to refuse entry.

Names and addresses of those listed as banned are then circulated with a photograph to all venues taking part.

Results have so far been positive, with the level of recorded disturbances in the town centre decreasing.

However some premises have reported troublemakers continually attempting to gain entry only to be removed by licensees, door staff or the police, wasting valuable police time.

Sgt Paul Bartolomeo oversees the scheme and believes the minority ignoring ban notices will eventually be stopped for good from entering the premises deemed out of bounds to them.

He said: "It is hard for door staff and licensees to remember the faces of the 40 to 50 people listed as banned. People can easily sneak into somewhere that's busy and go unnoticed.

"The radio link will mean those involved in the scheme will be able to react quickly and keep out those who are banned. I expect to see a further reduction in crime levels."

Previous measures meant that landlords, door staff and police would pass on information about those causing trouble via a pager system — a method proven to be slow and less effective than the proposed radio link-up.

The system is currently in use by shops in the town centre and has established itself as a valuable tool in the fight against crime.

A spokesman for Yates's Wine Lodge, a supporter of Pubwatch, said: "It is a much better way of communicating as information can be primitive when using a pager. With the radio link we are able to give a detailed description of the people causing a disturbance."

Sgt Bartolomeo also stressed the unusually hard line that Camberley police take on those causing a disturbance in pubs and clubs, charging those arrested rather than releasing offenders with a caution.

He added: "We run a strict policy in the town. We will charge people in the hope of putting them before the court and teaching them a lesson. Our aim is to make Camberley a safer place for drinkers.

"I would like to see membership of Pubwatch made compulsory. As premises apply for licences they should be made to join to prove a level of commitment to reducing the number of disturbances."