Many thanks to Leeds RAG Community Fund for a donation of £150 towards our work. (go to the Leeds RAG Facebook page for more photos!)
People heading out in Leeds this weekend to celebrate the countdown to Christmas are being urged to stay safe on what police expect to be one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Extra officers are being drafted in as part of a special operation aimed at keeping revellers safe in the night-time economy over the weekend that starts with what is colloquially known as ‘mad Friday’.
Police in Leeds District generally receive around 500 calls in an average 24-hour period but expect that to rise by about 50 per cent over the weekend, with a significant proportion of the increase being alcohol-related calls.
Teams of police officers, special constables and police community support officers will be on patrol in the city centre across a wider ‘footprint’ than their normal weekend operations. They will be working closely with council staff, licensees, door staff, British Transport Police, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and third sector agencies such as the Street Angels.
A detailed review of policing the same weekend in previous years has been carried out to make sure this year’s operation see resources focused on the busiest places at the times when the volume of calls can be at their highest.
Chief Inspector Chris Matthews, who oversees the policing of Leeds city centre, said: “The last weekend before Christmas can traditionally be very busy for the police, but we have planned accordingly and have additional officers in place to keep people safe and deal with any incidents that do occur.
“Leeds has some excellent pubs, bars and clubs and we know people will be out to celebrate finishing work on what is for many the start of the Christmas holiday season.
“While we want people to enjoy themselves, we want to them to do it safely and without putting themselves or others at risk. We will be working closely with licensees, door staff and our local authority partners to keep people safe.
“We know from experience that much of the increase in calls we receive will be to incidents where alcohol is a factor. We would urge people to pace themselves and drink sensibly to avoid leaving themselves vulnerable or at risk of getting into trouble.
“We’d also encourage people to plan their journey home in advance and stay together with their friends. Only take licensed taxis and make sure you have enough money to get home.
“Keep your phone charged and in credit. If possible make sure that somebody knows where you are going and what time you will be back.
“Take good care of your valuables. The theft of phones in licensed premises remains an issue so keep yours safe.
“The city is generally a safe place to enjoy a night out and we want people to have a great time. The last thing anyone wants is to have their Christmas break ruined by something that could have been easily avoided.”
Source (with video) - also featured on BBC Look North and ITV Calendar
Emergency services staged a rescue at the River Aire in Leeds today after about 31 incidents in five years.
The stretch of the river through the city centre has been responsible for more rescues than any other body of water in West Yorkshire.
Firefighters led a training exercise using boats and ropes to rescue a man floundering in the water behind Asda house.
Police and street angels were also on hand to assist.
Leeds district fire commander Russ Hepton said: “It’s not a controlled environment. If someone gets in there in deep water, potentially they could be in trouble.
“Half of incidents are over the weekend period, which is a concern to me because it suggests people are out enjoying themselves, possibly taking a bit of alcohol and the river, for whatever reason, looks more attractive.
“My clear message is don’t ever entertain getting in the water. If you do it might be the very last thing you do.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been called to 107 water rescues across the county since 2010, nine of which resulted in fatalities.
There were 47 incidents across Leeds, including five deaths. Two of those were in the Aire.
The exercise was held to coincide with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) national Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Week.
West Yorkshire 'Street Angels' are looking for more recruits to provide care and assistance to vulnerable locals.
More volunteers are needed to help keep people on nights out in West Yorkshire safe.
That's the calls from charity 'Street Angels' who have patrols in several places, including Leeds, Halifax and Bradford to help protect vulnerable people.
If someone has drunk too much the Angels offer them water, if someone takes their shoes off as they’re hurting the Angels give them flip-flops, and if someone has become separated from their friends or is upset the Angels will provide emotional help and support and make sure they are not left alone.
Teams are out Friday and some Saturdays from 10pm - 3am. They wear bright yellow jackets labelled Street Angel to make themselves known to the public, and work alongside other agencies to provide practical care, listening ears and look out for people.
Volunteer Katie Waters says “On patrol we look out for people that are vulnerable, and often walk about 3 miles a night to keep an eye on various areas, so we ask that any volunteers are reasonably fit and healthy- but apart from that anyone can apply!”
“Over the course of an hour or a few hours you see someone be helped by what you’re doing and manage to get home or be reunited with their friends. It’s really rewarding, it’s things like that that make you want to keep doing it.”