Christmas in Lancashire: Police promise extra patrols in the run up to the festive period to protect revellers

Lancashire Police are reassuring revellers of extra patrols around licenced premises in the run up to the festive period and beyond to help prevent violence and sexual offences.

The move is part of Operation Night Guardian, an initiative funded by the Home Office’s GRIP innovation fund, which will see uniformed patrols in busy town centres but also the use of specially trained plain clothed officers who will be there to help protect people, in particular women, by identifying individuals who may be displaying signs concerning behaviour.

There will also be 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 officers hope will further help to deter offences and raise the risk of offenders being caught.

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The officer leading the operation, Temp Detective Chief Supt. Pauline Stables said: “It’s our aim to ensure that anyone can come into our towns and cities for a safe night out throughout the festive season so we will be working closely with local licensees and partner agencies throughout the Christmas and New Year period to protect visitors.

Lancashire Police have launced Operation Night Guardian to watch over festive revellers

“However, as part of our ongoing work to prevent violence against women and girls, we will be paying particular attention to the safety of female pub and club goers and making it clear that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.

“This means that in addition to the uniformed officers you’ll see on the streets, we will have plain clothed officers who will be specifically on the lookout for people displaying signs of concerning behaviour which may be a precursor to a sexual offence.

“Where this type of behaviour is spotted, dedicated uniformed officers who will be on patrol nearby will then be called in to take action to prevent sexual violence against women and girls.

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Pauline added: “We know the vast majority of people planning to visit our licenced premises this Christmas and New Year period will be law abiding and just wanting to enjoy a good night out.

“However, for anyone intent on causing harm to women our message is clear. We are proactively targeting inappropriate behaviour, raising the risk of you being caught and spending the rest of your festive season in a cell.”

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What to do if you do feel unsafe?

Anyone who feels unsafe on a night out is urged to seek help immediately either from a member of staff in the venue or in an emergency, 999.

Women who want to report areas where they feel unsafe can tell tolice about their concerns on StreetSafe, a service for anyone to anonymously report public places where you have felt or feel unsafe because of environmental issues, e.g. street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, e.g. being followed or verbally abused.

Anyone who has been a victim of crime can seek help from Lancashire Victim Services (LVS) which offers free and confidential support. You do not have to report the incident to the police to get support from them. You can contact them directly via calling 0300 323 0085 or by chatting online at lancashirevictimservices.org

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For more information about drink spiking, how to avoid it and what to do if you think have been a victim of this crime visit: www.lancashire.police.uk/Spike-Aware