Police to step up Sunderland city centre patrols as festive party season begins

Sunderland city centre.
Sunderland city centre.

Police in Sunderland will step up patrols in the city centre this weekend as this year's Christmas party season gets underway.

On Friday and Saturday nights police say they will have a highly visible presence in the city centre as part of Operation Guardian and officers want to remind party-goers this will continue in the coming weeks.

Operation Guardian promotes a responsible night-time economy in Sunderland city centre and sees police and partners using early intervention to tackle alcohol-related issues before they become a problem.

As part of the operation police look out for people who are vulnerable and make sure they are safe.

Police work closely with licensed premises, door staff and taxi drivers - who have all been trained to spot if someone is vulnerable and identify what they can do to help keep them safe.

Temporary Chief Inspector Lisa Laverick has responsibility for Harm Reduction across Sunderland and South Tyneside.

She said: "Sunderland is a great place to come and enjoy a night out with a whole host of pubs, bars and clubs for people to visit and my priority is making sure people coming into the city to socialise can do so safely.

"Operation Guardian has been in operation throughout the city centre for a number of years and has been a huge success, a key part of the initiative is extra patrols and a highly visible police presence in the city on the nights it is busiest.

"Officers are there not just to offer reassurance to people and intervene if there is any crime or disorder but also ensure people who are vulnerable, maybe because they have had a bit too much to drink or have become separated from their friends, are safe.

"It's important everyone involved in the night-time economy - police, licensed premises, door staff and taxi drivers - work together to identify potentially vulnerable people and take steps to keep them safe and we are proud of the partnership approach we adopt in the city and the steps we take to work together to keep people safe."

Police are also reminding people going into the city for a night out of few things they can do help keep themselves safe.

T/Ch Insp Laverick added: "Taking on board a few tips can help, if you're planning a night out make sure you have plans to get home, book a taxi beforehand or visit one of the taxi ranks in the city and look out for your friends, try and stick together if you can.

"Always know what you're drinking, don't accept a drink from someone you don't trust and don't leave your drink unattended.

"If you feel like you've had too much to drink, or are feeling light-headed or ill after only a few drinks, seek help either from a member of bar staff, door staff or a credited taxi driver."