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Message to partygoers ahead of one of the busiest nights of the year

22 Dec 2017 14:00 PM

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Partygoers are being reminded to drink responsibly and look after their friends this Christmas - as police prepare for one of the busiest nights of the year.

For many people, today (Friday, Dec 21) will be the final working day before Christmas and tonight thousands of people will visit pubs and clubs to celebrate the festive season.

To help cope with the increased demand, extra police officers will be on patrol in Newcastle and Sunderland to reassure drinkers and quickly respond to any calls to service.

The Safe Haven van will be in place opposite St Nicholas' Cathedral in Newcastle and paramedics will be joined by police officers in a rapid response vehicle in both the region's city centres.

It is a challenging night for officers with an increase in the number of people entering both Newcastle and Sunderland that has led to the night being called 'Black Eye Friday'.

But ahead of the festive fun police have said the idea that you are likely to run into trouble tonight is a "myth" and is not supported by official police figures.

Newcastle city centre Chief Inspector Dave Pickett said: "There is this myth that if you go out on the final Friday before Christmas there is going to be loads of trouble and you will end up in a scrap.

"That simply is not the case and we want to reassure people that you can enjoy a safe night in Newcastle without having to be fearful that you will fall victim to a crime.

"Yes, there are more people coming into the city, enjoying a drink and celebrating the festive period but our main message to people is to just look after each other and drink responsibly.

"Make sure you have planned how you're getting home whether that is organising a lift or booking a taxi in advance. If you do find yourself alone then ask one of our officers for help.

"There will be extra police in the city across the festive period but we want to reiterate that we are very experienced at policing the night time economy in Newcastle.

"We regularly police the city centre after big football matches, big events and at key dates throughout the year. We will be looking forward to a fun night full of festive cheer and if you see us around come and say hello."

The Safe Haven van will be located opposite St Nicholas' Cathedral between 10pm and 4am throughout the festive season. That was jointly funded by NEAS and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC.

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.

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 licencees 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 out extra patrols across the city to keep people informed about what is going on in the city.