A new project is launching in Essex to help keep people safe on a night out.
Drinkaware will see teams of two people – Nightlife Crews – located inside some of the county’s biggest and busiest venues to support the welfare and wellbeing of people on a night out.
The Nightlife Crews mingle with customers, promoting a positive social atmosphere and helping anyone who may be vulnerable due to alcohol.
This includes reuniting them with their friends, helping people into taxis, or simply providing support.
The 12 month trial project is running between 10pm and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays at Atik in Colchester as well as roaming around the town and visiting other venues, Bar and Beyond, CTZN, and other venues such as Walkabout and Popworld in Chelmsford, Unit 7 in Basildon, and Moo Moo in Southend.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Barber said: “The Nightlife Crews are specially trained to spot the signs that someone may be vulnerable or that someone is showing signs of predatory behaviour.
“They can basically act in a position between door staff and bar staff, helping to prevent anti-social behaviour and possible sexual offences.
“They give an extra level of reassurance to customers as well as helping bar managers and security staff to effectively manage their venue.
“This will allow security staff to focus on dealing with disruption within venues and reduce the number of calls to the emergency services.
“The project highlights the really great partnership work that goes on between the police, bars and clubs, and other partners to keep you safe.”
The project has been funded by the Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner, the NHS, and the Chelmsford BID and the crews managed by Open Road in Chelmsford and Colchester, the YMCA SOS Bus in Basildon, and Triple L Training and Medical Ltd in Southend.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Crime prevention is a key element in my Police and Crime Plan. We have provided £30,000 to support this project as stopping crimes from happening in the first place is good for everybody. It is an excellent example of business, the police and voluntary agencies working together to keep people safe.”
Dave Vickery, Manager at Unit 7, said: “This is extra support and helps our customers feel safer. The biggest feedback we get is that people want to feel safe and this definitely makes them feel safer which is great for Unit 7 and the SOS bus.”
John Bastin, from the SOS Bus, said: “This is a great bit of partnership working. We’re going to have more people to help to look after those who are vulnerable. You’ve got Drink Aware, the SOS bus, Unit 7 and Essex Police working together to make Friday and Saturday night a safer time for them to be out. The more people we have inside the venues and outside the venues can only enhance the safety of everyone.”
Colin Goodwin, Manager of Moo Moo, said: “This is about taking our responsibility to another level. While we want people to enjoy themselves we know people can get in trouble without realising it. These Nightlife Crews on site is another level of care we can provide.”
Colin Ingram, from Triple L Training and Medical Ltd, said: “We supply the medical cover for Moo Moo so with the Nightlife Crews as well we can possibly alleviate the problems the medics are getting and keep people a lot safer while they’re out enjoying themselves.”
Mat Jarrett, Manager at Bar & Beyond, said: “We support any scheme that aims to make the night-time economy a safer place. Customer safety is at the forefront of everything we do and we feel that a collaboration between local venues, Drink Aware and Essex Police Force is a positive step forward for all involved.”
Nick Halle, Manager of CTZN bar, said: “Obviously the safety of our customers is paramount to us for everyone to enjoy a good night in Chelmsford. If there are predatory people there hopefully the Nightlife Crews will find them and we can deal with them. We don’t want them in our towns and cities. This is another initiative on top of the other projects we have in town to keep people safe.”
Mike Wray, from the Chelmsford Business Improvement District, said: “Chelmsford Business Improvement District saw this as a great opportunity to get more involved in public safety during our evening economy. The additional roving Drink Aware crews in Chelmsford sponsored by the BID will ensure people continue to have a great night out in Chelmsford, and should they need any help during their evening out, Drink Aware crews will be another set of eyes and ears to assist as and when required”.
Steve Wood, from Open Road, said: “This ties in really well with the SOS buses we provide which give a safe place and support for injuries. The Nightlife Crews will be out and about inside the venues making sure people are feeling safe, being an extra set of eyes and ears, looking for any unwanted characters and speaking to management.”
Nigel Dermott, Licensing Officer at Essex Police, said: “This project will contribute greatly to the safety of the night-time economy through the early identification of people who are having some difficulty while out enjoying themselves. It offers a level protection that some other services can’t currently offer,”
Brett Crabtree, Head of Business Development at Drinkaware, said: “We’ve already seen our night-time safety training scheme help people have a safer, more positive night out, and we’re grateful to the many partners who have made it a success.
“It’s fantastic to see the commitment from venues across Essex, supporting Essex police to roll out our Nightlife Crew training.
“We would urge any local authority, BID and organisation with a night-time safety remit to look at how Nightlife Crew can support an area to promote an enjoyable evening, while reducing the risks of alcohol harms to people.”
If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police here