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Police and paramedics to go on patrol together this Christmas

13 Dec 2017 16:45 PM

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Police and paramedics are set to go on shift together this Christmas - to help keep partygoers safe during the busy festive period.

Emergency services will be running the operation in Newcastle and Sunderland city centres on some of the busiest nights for the emergency services over the coming weeks.

It will see a paramedic join a police officer in an ambulance rapid response vehicle in the city centre so that they can respond to certain incidents together.

The operation will run on December 16th, December 22nd, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day after being introduced to enable a more co-ordinated response to incidents in the city centre.

On the last Friday before Christmas in 2016, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 501 incidents of which 94 were alcohol related. There were around 250 more calls on that Friday night in comparison to a normal Friday. 

Last New Year’s Eve, the service took 1,376 calls between 6pm and 6am and attended 636 incidents of which 159 incidents were related to alcohol.

Newcastle city centre Inspector, Steve Wykes, said: "Newcastle is a fantastic place to spend Christmas and the city comes alive with all the different events being hosted here.

"We have hundreds of thousands of visitors coming into the city to visit family and friends as well as enjoy a night out in our city centre pubs and bars.

"There are a few key dates when we see a particular surge in visitors and so it is inevitable that on those nights we see a spike in calls to both us and our colleagues at the ambulance service.

"To ensure that we have a co-ordinated approach, and that vulnerable people receive the best support, we will continue to run this operation in the run up to Christmas.

"It is really valuable to have paramedics on patrol with us on these busy nights so that we can work together to ensure we still deliver a good service in the face of increased demand.

"There will be a highly visible policing presence over the next few weeks so if anyone does have any concerns we would encourage them to come and say hello."

Douglas McDougall, strategic head of operations at NEAS, said:  "During the festive period we are expecting to receive a high number of calls to our service, many of which are alcohol related. 

“People under the influence of alcohol can be more difficult to assess over the phone and on arrival at a scene, their behaviour can be more unpredictable. People consuming a lot of alcohol are also more likely to injure themselves in the course of their evening and require medical support. 

“We will be working closely with our partners to ensure people who are out in the city celebrating are able to safely enjoy themselves and use the emergency services wisely so that we have resources available to respond to 999 callers when they need us most.”

This operation is just one of the partnership initiatives between police and the ambulance service during the busy winter period.

The Safe Haven van is also currently located in the Bigg Market between 10pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights. That was jointly funded by NEAS and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

St John's Ambulance will be based at the van along with paramedics and police officers to talk to people, pass on safety information and give medical assistance.

Over the festive period, taxi marshals will be based at the ranks on Newgate Street, Centre for Life and around the Bigg Market offering advice and helping people get home safely.

Police are also getting licensees and door staff involved from city centre bars and pubs by carrying out pre-shift safety briefings.

All of this work will be supplemented by Newcastle City Council NE1 Rangers who will carry our extra patrols across the city to keep people informed about what is going on in the city.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said she would continue to work with partners and invest in keeping vulnerable people safe.

Dame Vera said: "We have had huge successes with our Safe Haven van and I am delighted that we can continue to deliver that service to the people of Newcastle.

"Because of our door staff training, the street pastors, taxi marshals and initiatives such as our joint ambulance and police patrols, we can ensure our city centre is a safe place to visit.

"It also means we are in the best possible position to spot signs of vulnerability and act on it quickly to prevent anyone being exploited.

"Christmas time should be a safe and happy time of the year and I would encourage anyone who has any concerns to approach one of our police officers."

Cllr Nick Kemp, Chair of the Safer Newcastle, said: "Newcastle city centre is particularly busy in the run up to Christmas and while the vast majority of people have a great time we know that for some their big night doesn’t always go according to plan.

"This is why we have a number of things in place to help keep them safe such as taxi marshals, street pastors and the Safe Haven van.

"I would like to pay tribute to all our blue light services who do an amazing job in sometimes difficult circumstances, and urge people to have a good time but act sensibly and think about the effects their actions can have on others who are also just out to enjoy themselves at this special time of the year."