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.”