Police from across the Lancaster district will be taking extra steps to keep people safe this Christmas.
Operation Night Guardian, an initiative funded by the Home Office’s GRIP innovation fund, will be running throughout the Christmas period and involves both uniformed and specially trained plain-clothed patrols in busy town centres. It aims to protect people by identifying those who may be displaying signs of concerning behaviour.
PC Andrew Taylor, Licensing Officer, said: “We’re expecting a lot of people to be out and about during the Christmas period, enjoying their local night time economy. We want people to enjoy themselves and celebrate the festivities with their families and friends, however we want to ensure that they do so, safely.
“Officers from many different policing teams will be out during the evenings and into the night ensuring that people are enjoying themselves responsibly, and everyone gets home safe.”
PC Andrew Taylor said: “Op Night Guardian also offers a range of practical measures used to help prevent and detect spiking offences with drink toppers and spiking test kits available in some licenced premises, which we hope will further help to deter offences and raise the risk of offenders being caught.”
Local officers recently re-launched Opeartion Homesafe, which offers places of safety for vulnerable people in the night-time economy in Lancaster.
Operation Homesafe has been running for the past six years, and ensures that people who are classed as vulnerable (as a result of alcohol and/or other) have a safe way of getting home after a night out.
PC Andrew Taylor continued: “As part of Operation Homesafe, any person who has been identified as vulnerable can be taken to a ‘safe-place’ location - these are Sugarhouse and Vibe, both in Lancaster. All staff at these venues are aware of Operation Homesafe and can assist in looking after that person.”
“At the ‘safe-place’ locations the vulnerable person can be given a blanket, hot or cold drink, flip flops and sugar/sweets to aid recuperation. The goal is to obtain details of a trusted family member or friend who can attend the ‘safe-place’ to take the vulnerable person home.”
In addition to this, the national campaign Ask for Angela currently runs in both Lancaster and Morecambe within licensed premises, and also looks to address any vulnerability of individuals.
PC Taylor said: “Should a person need help in a bar or a club, and wishes to be safety escorted out, they can simply approach a member of staff and Ask for Angela. All licensed venues are signed up to this initiative and aware of what to do should a person Ask for Angela.”
Tim Tomlinson, Lancaster Pub Watch Chair, said: “Lancaster Pub Watch enjoys a strong working relationship with our local Constabulary and its officers, and has been successful over the years in making and keeping the Lancaster City Centre a safe and welcoming place to visit.
“Christmas is, of course, a time when many people want to go out and enjoy themselves and our role is to make sure they do so, but without over doing it and potentially causing problems for themselves and their fellow customers.
“Responsible alcohol retailing is key to this and especially at Christmas, making sure all our venues' staff are trained to spot someone who may have had enough, and then how to manage them, is essential to keeping all our venues friendly and safe.”
Lancaster Students Union said: “We are very pleased to be working with the police in Lancaster on Operation Homesafe to make the festive period as safe as possible.
“At Sugarhouse, we have always focused on making sure that our members have a great night out, but a safe one too. And we were only too happy to contribute to Op Homesafe by making Sugar one of its 'safe-place' locations.
“Our staff and contractors will be on hand to help anyone who needs us as part of the scheme. We hope that everyone has a great time in the run-up to Christmas as we are sure that Op Homesafe will make people feel that bit more secure during the celebrations."