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Safe Haven Van launch for festive season in Newcastle City Centre

14th December 2016

Emergency services in Newcastle city centre are working with partners to wish visitors a safe and happy Christmas.

Over the next couple of weeks hundreds of thousands of extra visitors are expected into the city centre for Christmas parties and to enjoy the city’s night-life.

To ensure people can enjoy their nights out safely police officers are working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner, the North East Ambulance service, Newcastle city council and the Street Pastors to put plans in place to keep people safe.

Over the course of the next two weeks extra police officers will be carrying out regular patrols on evenings, over nights and early mornings speaking to people and offering advice in relation to safe taxi ranks and transport links. They will be there to make sure people stay safe and offer any help they might need.

The Safe Haven Van will be parked in the Bigg Market on Friday and Saturday evenings over the festive period between 10pm and 4am and is there for anyone who needs any help or support. Staff from the North East Ambulance service and St John’s Ambulance will be with police officers and based inside the van to talk to people, pass on safety information and give medical assistance to anyone who might require it.

The Street Pastors will be out on the streets offering help to revellers and 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 – giving them the most up to date safety information and crime prevention advice to pass onto party-goers.

All of this work will be supplemented by Newcastle City Council NE1 Rangers carrying our extra patrols across the city day and night keeping people informed about what is going on in the city and what services and help is available should they need it.

This partnership approach to festive safety has worked well in recent years and it’s hoped that this joint working will once again lead to a safe and merry Christmas for the people of Newcastle.

PCC Vera Baird said: “This new Safe Haven Van is a fantastic facility that offers a safe environment for people who need help and assistance during a night out in the city centre. Alongside the existing medical assistance from paramedics and St John’s Ambulance and help and support from the Safe Haven team, it now offers people the opportunity to speak to a police officer in confidence.

“I have already given my assurances that Northumbria Police will continue to do everything within their power to help keep local residents and visitors safe on a night out and the Safe Haven van will help achieve this.

“Anyone who would like to speak to a police officer in confidence while in the city can visit the van where there is a confidential area where they can discuss their concerns.”

Newcastle City Centre Inspector Nicola Wearing said: “A happy Christmas is a safe Christmas for us here in Newcastle and that’s why it’s so important that we do everything we can to ensure that everyone coming into the city to celebrate the festive season stays safe. My officers will be more visible than ever in the coming weeks carrying out high profile patrols on busy evenings and really engaging with people out on the streets. Our aim is to pass on as much safety and crime prevention advice as we can and to work with our partners and businesses to make sure everyone has a safe and fabulous time in our great city.”

Alan Gallagher from NEAS said: “On an average weekend night we look after around 20 people needing assistance at the Safe Haven as a result of things like alcohol related injuries.  Without this service, those people would have been left vulnerable or potentially rung 999 for assistance and diverted emergency services away from others who may need them more.  Over the holiday period, we work closely with our partners to ensure people celebrating in the city enjoy themselves, stay safe and use emergency services wisely so that we have resources available to respond to 999 callers when they need us most.”

Chair of Safe Newcastle, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “Thousands of extra revellers pour into Newcastle city centre to enjoy the Christmas festivities. The vast majority of them have a great time but from time-to-time problems can occur which is why the council works with the blue light services and volunteer groups to offer help and support.

“I want everyone to have a great Christmas but I would also urge every single person to behave responsibly and think about the consequences of their actions on others, that way we should also be able to have a peaceful as well as a fun Christmas.”

Safe Haven is a city centre reception unit in Newcastle that is jointly funded by the Police Crime Commissioner and North East Ambulance Service.  The centre offers a safe place where vulnerable patients can wait in a secure environment for transport to home or hospital as appropriate and be treated for minor injuries.  Having a facility in a central location, staffed by the ambulance and police services, with support from St John Ambulance, reduces the demand on emergency services and accident and emergency departments over busy weekend nights.  Safe Haven is open from 10pm until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights and is located in the Bigg Market.