Staff reportedly threatened customers with a bat with a spike attached at a pub in Reading which could lose its licence.

The claim is one of a series of incidents revealed by Thames Valley Police (TVP) to back up its call for the council to consider shutting down The Pheasant, on Southampton Street.

The pub will have its licence reviewed by Reading Borough Council (RBC) later this year.

READ MORE: Pub will be demolished and replaced with eight houses

In a report sent to RBC, police have outlined the events that have led to them calling in the review.

These including a series of fights involving bottles, knives and attempted GBH, as well as “open drug use”.

One report from a member of the public suggested the management team allowed “open drug usage in the premises and that each weekend fights occur whereby staff threaten patrons with a bat with a spike attached”.

On another occasion, police were called to a 20-person fight, while a further incident led to an Attempted GBH with Intent investigation.

READ MORE: Pub could lose licence due to glass and weapon assaults and drug use

The timeline, as reported by police, starts on January 19, 2018, with the appointment of a new Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS), the person who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business.

The Pheasant timeline: January 2018 – September 2020


Martin Forristal appointed DPS on January 19

Incidents under his supervision include: Open drug use – 20-person fight – Victim glassed

January 20: Police receive complaint that drug usage is openly taking place within the Pheasant and that youths were smoking cannabis in the beer garden and staff were not taking any action to prevent this.

January 22: Police contacted by member of the public reporting an individual who is not the DPS running the pub, drinking alcohol and drunk whilst serving others. The open use of cocaine is also reported.

January 25: TVP and RBC conduct licensing inspection and drug swab at the pub, finding low readings for cocaine within the gentlemans toilets and high readings within the ladies toilets, as well as nine licensing offences.

January 27: At 00:07, police called to an incident in the car park of The Pheasant, where there is a big fight involving 20 people and a female victim has reportedly been punched in the face multiple times.

February 16: TVP receive report from a concerned member of public that suggests DPS is still not running the Pheasant and instead another individual is managing the pub.

The report suggested the management team are allowing open drug usage in the premises and that each weekend fights occur whereby staff threaten patrons with a bat with a spike attached.

February 24, police received a call at 00:11 hours about a fight involving around six people outside of The Pheasant, with the caller screaming and saying there was a lot of blood.

Officers record in the log that a large fight had taken place inside the pub and the victim had glass sticking out of their face, deep lacerations to their cheek and temple caused by “glassing to the face”.

In a subsequent officer report, they state evidence suggests the landlord let the fight spill out onto the street, locked the door and failed to report this to the police.

The premises had no CCTV and it was suspected staff deliberately washed away the blood to remove the crime scene prior to police arrival.

March 2: TVP receive another email from a member of the public detailing concerns in relation to drugs, after-hours activity and children being allowed in the premises.

March 12: At around 5pm, police attend The Pheasant to a report of a male who has been punched and is bleeding from the head.

On attendance at the pub although a person matching the suspect description was within, no other person in the pub would provide information in relation to the incident or knowledge of it.

John Aitken appointed as new DPS on May 1

Reported incidents under his supervision include: Very high cocaine levels – Man bottled – attempted GBH

May 16: TVP conducted an inspection and found increased cocaine usage compared to January, with very high levels now discovered in both the gents and ladies toilets.

June 24: At around 11pm, TVP received a report that a male had been “bottled” to the head at The Pheasant and had a major bleed.

The reports states he had been hit three times to the rear of the head and was also bleeding from his ear.

Officers state bar staff had been drinking and seemed intoxicated. Staff had not reported the incident to police and had begun clearing up the blood reducing the potential for forensic evidence.

August 10: At around 11pm, TVP receive a call from DPS Mr Aitken for assistance as he has served a group of travellers’ alcohol all evening and they are demanding their money back.


November 10, 2019: Male punched and another slapped by a female who was then also punched – a member of staff was also head-butted.

December 27: TVP receive call for assistance from the DPS after he had refused to serve a group of travellers anymore alcohol and they had demanded their money back.


March 17, 2020: At around 7pm, police received call stating a male was at The Pheasant with a stanley knife, smashing windows and had cut someone across the neck.

Police say the incident, which led to an investigation of an attempted GBH with Intent, was not aided by staff at the pub.

Landlady Jane Brooker states the DPS has “gone missing”. Admiral Taverns agreed to close the pub until a new DPS is in place.

Designated Premises Supervisor III: Jane Brooker appointed on June 19

Incidents under her supervision include: Lack of Covid-19 measures – Fight – Nine licensing failures

July 24: Police receive report from a member of public concerned about social distancing measures during a wake.  The caller stated there were approximate 200 persons within the premises. Police were unable to respond and due to no CCTV being available no evidence was available.

August 28: TVP receive a call at 11.30pm reporting a fight at The Pheasant.

Officers attended and produced a report stating that staff indicated a fight had taken place between two individuals who had since left the pub.

Of specific concern to the officers was a lack of Covid-19 control measures and social distancing and they estimated 100–150 people were in the rear garden of the premises (the capacity is limited to 80 on the licence).

September 9: TVP conduct an inspection at the premises in response to the report from officers on August 28 and also to investigate whether the premises processes had improved over the last few years.

They found 11 conditions were either not complied with or proof of compliance could not be provided.

According to the police, the DPS stated that she had not had time to gain compliance with the licence or understand it fully because she had not had time since the premises re-opened to arrange this with her company.

September 20: Police formally request that the council review the pub’s licence and suggest strong consideration be given to revoking the licence. 

PC Simon Wheeler says premises supervisors have “failed appallingly to deliver”.

He asks the council’s Licensing Sub-Committee to seriously consider revoking the licence “in order to protect the public and prevent serious harm or injury in the future”.