Best Bar None (England and Wales)
2003 > Ongoing
To reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder by building a positive relationship between the licensed trade, police and local authorities and the private sector.
To improve the knowledge and skills of enforcement and regulation agencies, licensees and bar staff to help them responsibly manage licensed premises.
To raise the standard of on-trade operating policies in terms of social responsibility, health and safety and environmental policies.
To highlight how operating more responsibly can improve the profitability of an individual business and attractiveness of a general area.
Best Bar None is an awards and accreditation scheme supported by the Home Office and drinks industry. It was developed to recognise and reward responsible premises, and to improve operating standards in the evening and night-time economy. The scheme recognises and awards venues who demonstrate progress in the four areas addressed by the UK Licensing Act of 2003: (1) the prevention of crime and disorder; (2) public safety; (3) prevention of public nuisance; and, (4) protection of children from harm.
The scheme was piloted in Manchester in 2003 and found to improve standards in the night-time economy, with premises now competing to participate. It is supported by a dedicated website, Twitter and Facebook page.
In 2018 the BBN Central Scheme was launched to give licensed premises that are not currently near a regional scheme the opportunity to apply to become a part of the Central Scheme. Businesses that apply to join are audited by qualified BBN assessors who apply the same rigorous high standards expected to achieve accreditation in one of the regional schemes.
In January 2019, a pilot scheme with was launched with Manchester Airport Group (MAG), encompassing Manchester, London Stanstead and East Midlands airports, in order to further improve standards of airside alcohol retailing across the UK’s biggest airport group and improve the travel experience for its 60 million passengers. BBN prepared a scheme that would be compatible with the practicalities of airside alcohol retailing, before agreeing to work with MAG to deliver the pilot throughout 2019.
In the pilot, around 50 venues across the three airports were evaluated by Best Bar None qualified assessors with a view to gaining accreditation. Ongoing participation in the scheme is then expected to become a condition of trading in the airports. In addition, any staff working in MAG airport lounges will have to undertake and pass the Level 1 BIIAB Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing. The stringent annual assessment encompasses the areas of operational standards, policies and procedures, as well as the education and training of staff. On successful completion of the audit, approved premises are welcomed into the BBN network and given a certificate and window-sticker to promote their achievement to the public. For those who fail to reach the required standards expected on first audit, a comprehensive action plan will be provided to enable improvement to elevate the premises to BBN standards.
Through a combination of responsible management and operation of licensed premises, ongoing improvements, and social responsibility, Best Bar None’s goal is to help provide a safer night out to all.
The process of becoming recognised by BBN includes meeting minimum standards and assessment by the police and local council. Venues are put forward to the independent judging panel for final selection to verify that they meet the minimum standards. The process culminates with a high-profile award night with category winners and an overall winner. Accredited venues can display signage outside and inside their premises and can share good practice with others.
National Awards: Every February, representatives from regional schemes across the country come together for a special Parliamentary reception at the House of Lords, to find out which schemes have won the National Awards. The competition carries a prize fund of over £5,000 split across the following categories:
- Best Overall Scheme: Presented to the scheme that has had the biggest impact on the local area (£3,000).
- Best New Scheme: Open to any scheme that has been running for less than 18 months (£1,000).
- Most Innovative Scheme: Awarded to the most creative concept or initiative introduced to make a difference in the local area (£1,000).
- Outstanding Commitment Award: Presented to an individual who has shown commitment above and beyond what would normally be required in support of their own local BBN, or nationally (£250).
Main Sponsors: Diageo, Heineken and Pernod Ricard
Associate Sponsors: Stonegate Pub Company/Ei Group, JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, and Asahi UK
Partners: CAP (Community Alcohol Partnerships), drinkaware, Home Office, Pubwatch, PASS, Portman Group, sia (Security Industry Authority), the almr (licenced hospitality association), BII (British Institute of Innkeeping) and BIIAB (Qualifications)
Brown-Forman (until 2013)
The overall percentage of those venues entering the competition and receiving full accreditation is over 80%. Schemes have been set up in towns and cities across the UK and Best Bar None has been adopted by some international locations.
Current Best Bar None Schemes (February 2021)
- England: 578 Accredited venues in 38 towns and cities (Altrincham: 7; Barnsley: 23; Biggleswade: Unknown; Bolton Borough: 27; Bournemouth: 18; Brick Lane: 4; Chelmsford: 14; Clapham: Unknown; Cumbria: 17; Doncaster: Unknown; Dunstable: 7; Durham: 19; East Riding of Yorkshire: 18; Exeter: 35; Gloucester: 20; Guildford: 7; Harrow: Unknown; Havering: 6; Houghton Regis: 1; Leigh: Unknown; Leighton Linslade: 10; Luton: Unknown; Northamptonshire: 13; Nottingham (City): 75; Nottinghamshire: 74; Plymouth: 59; Sandy: Unknown; Sheffield: 31; Skipton: 2; St Helens: Unknown; Torbay: Unknown; Tower Hamlets: 41; Urmston: Unknown; Weston-Super-Mare: Unknown; Weymouth: 16; Winchester: 12; Woking: 12 and Worcester: 10.
- Wales: 48 Accredited venues in 3 cities: (Cardiff: 8; Conwy: 20 and Swansea: 20)
February 2020: Assessor Training - There are over 140 qualified BBN assessors, with another 20+ individuals due to complete the training in the coming months.
Measurement & evaluation
BBN has proven its success by:
- Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm, disorder and crime.
- Established benchmark of good practice.
- Recognising and rewarding responsible operators.
- Creating consistency of standards throughout the UK.
- Creating a positive vehicle for all sectors of the night time economy to work together in partnership.
- Durham: Best Bar None was first launched in 2008. In 2008, incidents of violent crime dropped by 35%. In 2009, by 52%. In 2010 and 2011, the drop was 87%.
- Plymouth: In 2019, Plymouth was recognised as “Best Overall Scheme” for the second year running. Crime statistics show a reduction in alcohol related crimes of 19.1% overall, and 16.6% during Evening and Night Time Economy (ENTE) hours compared with 2018, as well as a massive reduction in drunkenness, which was down by 54%.
- February 2020: A recent survey by Stonegate Pub Company (85% of their around 5,000 pubs are involved with a regional BBN scheme or other community safety programme) found that 91% said that membership of a community safety scheme improves relationships with the police, 90% said it improves relationships with local authorities, 77% said relationships with neighbours are better as a result and 69% believe that membership supports crime reduction.