Extra protection for ‘vulnerable’ festive party-goers

Halifax Street Angels
Halifax Street Angels

Party-goers will be given extra protection by Halifax businesses and bar staff to help those who may become vulnerable on a festive season night out.

Specialist training, co-ordinated by West Yorkshire Police and Calderdale Council, is being given to licensees, door staff and organisations such as the Street Angels and Bus Oasis.

It has been developed to help those most likely to come in to contact with someone who could have had too much to drink and be at risk.

Using a video resource that was gifted by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, the training uses a video to highlight all the potential missed opportunities to help a woman who becomes the victim of a serious sexual assault whilst on a night out.

The video demonstrates how various agencies, passers-by and friends could have potentially intervened, rather than ‘looking the other way’, or misinterpreting a situation.

Police Sergeant Ben Doughty and Licencing Officer Lisa Nicholson have devised and delivered the training;

“Licensees and their door staff have a huge part to play in our night time economy and having them on board is a huge boost to making sure that people can have a night out, knowing that other people are looking out for them too,” said Sgt Nicholson.

“Most people will probably not really notice door staff, or who is serving them behind the bar when they’re having a good time, but these people are your eyes and ears if something unexpected happens.

“Door staff are vital, as they not only monitor their own premises, but are out watching what’s happening out on the streets around the bars and clubs.” Lisa added.

The specialist training forms part of our wider response to policing the night time economy and protecting vulnerable people.

“Traditionally at this time of year people may over-indulge, and with Christmas parties, celebrations and general festivities we want everyone to have fun, but also have a safe Christmas and New Year,” said Sgt Doughty.

“We are really fortunate in Halifax to have excellent links with organisations such as Street Angels and Bus Oasis.

“These are the people who are out watching over you, and being there when you may not realise you need them.

“They will probably see 80 percent of people in Halifax on a Friday and making sure they have had this training helps them be better equipped when working with the public.

Throughout December Police, Bus Oasis and Street Angels will be working together to deploy the bus in to the town centre as a mobile safe place. The vehicle is stocked with bottled water, flip flops and spikeys; The bus is also kitted out with mobile phone charging points and hot drink facilities. Volunteers offer advice, guidance and support to users, and can help them to get home safely by referring them to licensed taxi’s, or by making sure they are safely inside one of the nightclubs or bars, and not left wandering around vulnerable in the town centre.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, Councillor Susan Press said: “Safeguarding is everyone’s business and we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe.

“In partnership with the police we’ve already trained over 1000 taxi drivers in Calderdale to help protect vulnerable people.

“We’re now extending this principle by training local bar and nightclub staff, making sure that they know how to look after people who may seem at risk.

“We’re teaching them what to do if they see something which makes them uneasy and giving them the confidence to step in if they see anything which doesn’t seem right.”