Prague 1 noise patrols taking a break

The anti-conflict team should return in September under new management

The anti-conflict team recently set up by the Prague 1 Town Hall will be on vacation until September.

The team was set up to deal with noise and disturbances from crowds on the street due to the new law banning smoking indoors.

But the agency currently providing the patrols is no longer interested in the contract and a new security firm will need to be chosen for the patrols to continue. In another change, women will be joining the patrols.

Crowds of tourists are still large in August, but many residents leave the city with their children on vacation, so the noise does not have as large of an impact on residents.

Prague 1 Councilor Ivan Solil of the security committee told daily Lidové noviny (LN) that the decision to have a hiatus was made before the widespread negative reaction to the anti-conflict team, as its purpose is to serve the residents.

The anti-conflict team so far has been composed of all men, but that is set to change. Two women will be added after the team returns. This is an attempt to reduce volatile situations where inebriated men feel the need to prove their masculinity when asked to quiet down.

The service costs Kč 600,000 over the past three months, or about Kč 220 crowns per hour for one anti-conflict team member, Solil stated.

The 12-member team patrolled in front of clubs and bars in Prague 1 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in evening hours. The team members are supposed to warn people about a ban on drinking alcohol on the street and making excessive noise, as well as other misdemeanors. They, however, are not police and cannot make arrests. In case of uncooperative people, the anti-conflict team has to call the Municipal Police and there are only 30 officers for all of Prague 1, which Solil says is not sufficient.

The team will continue in September but likely under new management. The contract with security firm BSB Professional Service is running out and the agency is not interested in renewing it.

Roman Vacek of BSB Professional service told LN that the negative reactions of the public and the media storm surrounding the patrols was behind the decision not to renew the contract. “It was one of the worst jobs our employees had ever had to do. The media has provoked provocation, and people have been caught up in it,” Vacek told LN. “Even though I think the work is meaningful, we are not thinking about further cooperation.”

Solil said that the complaints from drunken people about someone spoiling their fun did not carry a lot of weight at the Town Hall. He also dismissed the idea that the team was too aggressive.

There are also letters of praise from residents who are please that steps are being taken to make Prague 1 livable at night, he said.

The Prague I Town Hall now has to vote on the next steps and choose another agency to provide patrols.

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