Police braced for ‘Mad Friday’

Taxi drivers went on strike across Calderdale after a dispute over council regulations.'Pictures taken around Halifax town centre between 10pm and midnight, with no taxis to be seen around the town 'Pictured here:- Police and Street Angels deal with a comatosed drinker in George Square
Taxi drivers went on strike across Calderdale after a dispute over council regulations.'Pictures taken around Halifax town centre between 10pm and midnight, with no taxis to be seen around the town 'Pictured here:- Police and Street Angels deal with a comatosed drinker in George Square
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POLICE are pledging to be out in force tonight to ensure party-goers have a safe Mad Friday.

Extra patrols will be made across Calderdale, particularly in town centres, to ensure the night passes off peacefully.

Mad Friday is traditionally the Friday before Christmas when workers finish for the festive season and there are more people than usual enjoying a night out.

Halifax Central neighbourhood policing team has been working with members of Halifax Pub Watch as part of its planning for the night.

Inspector Simon Spencer, who leads the team, said: “We want people to enjoy the festivities safely.

“We’re asking people to pre-plan how they will be getting home and try to stay with their friends.”

Their other advice includes only catching licensed taxis from official ranks and checking you have enough money to get home.

Party-goers should make sure their mobile phones are charged and have credit and never leave drinks unattended.

Bags should not be left on chairs and wallets and purses should be kept in a place difficult to access by pickpockets.

Police says they usually see a 20 per cent increase in 999 calls between 6pm and 10pm on the last working day before Christmas.

Many of these – around 70 per cent – are alcohol-related, ranging from drunken anti-social behaviour to lost or collapsed people.

Chief Inspector Mick Hanks said: “Last year on Tuesday, December 23 we had over 475 calls between 6pm and 10pm – that’s a call every 30 seconds. The total calls for the Friday before was 288. Of course we will have the normal police business to attend to but the vast majority of calls we will deal with will be alcohol-related.

“We have plans in place to be able to handle the increase in calls but it does place a massive strain on our emergency response.

“One part of this operation is encouraging callers to ring the new non-emergency number 101 if the matter does not need an emergency response.

“The 999 is for an emergency when you need police help immediately or if a crime is ongoing.”

Since the beginning of December, police have been taking part in an operation aimed at cutting sex attacks in the run-up to Christmas.

Officers, working with Halifax Street Angels and community wardens, have been offering advice and handing out anti-drink spiking devices and other products with safety messages.