Sunday 19 May 2024
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Nottinghamshire Police on how they keep people safe on Nottingham nights out

From dealing with drunken fights to hen parties asking for a ‘selfie’, policing Nottingham’s night-time economy swings and fluctuates like no other shift.

One minute officers find themselves engaging with excited groups on a fun night out. The next they are bundling a suspect into the back a police van following a violent incident at a nearby bar.

They are long shifts – 8pm to 6am on a Saturday night – and the all-embracing aim of the policing teams is to ensure people can enjoy a safe night out.

Occasionally this will require taking someone into custody. But most of the time officers will simply be patrolling the streets, engaging with revellers and providing help and assistance where needed.

It’s why Sergeant Richard Tiernan, of the city centre neighbourhood policing team, enjoys policing the night-time economy.

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“Ultimately it’s policing in its purest form,” he said. “You’re out there and doing what you joined up for, which is keeping people safe.

“People have perceptions of what policing the night-time economy is like but you do get some rewarding jobs. The other night we talked someone down from the roof of a car park who was having a mental health crisis. That was quite rewarding as we managed to talk him down.”

An estimated 40,000 people descend on Nottingham every weekend to enjoy the city’s nightlife and a mix of Nottinghamshire Police teams are tasked with keeping them safe.

Working to a rota, the weekend night-time team consists of up to 15 police constables, two sergeants and one inspector, but there are also response officers, armed officers and the dog unit on standby, ready to deal with any major incidents.

“There’s always something different to deal with,” said Sgt Tiernan, who has helped police the city centre’s nightlife for eight years. “We start at 8pm, there’s a briefing at 8.30pm and then we’re out in the city centre until around 5am.

“During that time, we’ll typically arrest at least one or two people. You go out expecting to deal with people who have been drinking and have assaulted someone, but you get other incidents too.

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“The most rewarding job I’ve had in my career was actually during the night-time economy. I was flagged down by someone who was concerned about their friend who was at home while they were out. I drove them straight over to his house and we took him to the QMC so he could be treated for his mental health issues.

“I bumped into him three weeks later on a night-time economy shift and he made a point of stopping me in the street and thanking me – he said, ‘genuinely, you saved my life that night’.

“It shows policing the night-time economy is not just about breaking up fights and putting people in police cells.”

Managing the night-time economy involves a huge amount of planning and Nottinghamshire Police works in partnership with many organisations including Nottingham City Council, East Midlands Ambulance Service, St John’s Ambulance, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University to keep revellers safe.

Police also work with door staff, pub managers, street pastors and community protection officers employed by the council.

The city centre neighbourhood policing team also runs major operations such as Operation Guardian to target drug dealers and knife-carriers.

But regardless of how much planning and work goes into policing the night-time economy, much will depend on the weather gods. Rain means revellers will go straight home, but dry weather means they will remain in the city after the pubs and clubs have closed.

Inspector Paul Gummer, who leads the city centre neighbourhood team, said the weather makes a “massive, massive difference” to how the night goes for his officers.

He said: “Generally speaking, if you offered me another 10 cops or really heavy rain, I’d choose really heavy rain every time.

“It’s about how quickly people go home more than anything. If people come out of venues and hang out in the street, sooner or later groups will bump into each other and incidents will break out. But if it’s raining hard, people just leave.”

The night-time team will deal with numerous incidents during a typical Friday or Saturday night – but arrests are only made as where necessary.

Inspector Gummer said: “For me, there is only one standard to apply to night-time policing. Where we see drunk and disorderly behaviour, we will give people the benefit of the doubt – we’ll ask them to stop whatever it is they’re doing and encourage them to be on their way.

“Once it becomes apparent that they’re not going to take their opportunity to behave sensibly and stop causing a problem, our officers take the necessary action to keep people safe.

“It’s a dynamic shift and you’re guaranteed to see things, but dealing with drunk people from 8pm to 6am is not easy and it requires professionalism and resilience at times.

“Even people who aren’t particularly violent can be draining to deal with when they’re asking over and over again why they’ve been arrested. You tell them but 10 seconds later they’re asking again.

“That said, It’s also an opportunity, particularly in the earlier part of the shift, to interact with the public as they wander round, chatting and being photographed with them in circumstances where you aren’t taking crime details or taking some enforcement action against them and it’s nice to still have those opportunities to interact.”

All this week, Nottinghamshire Police is shining a light on some of the crucial neighbourhood policing work being done every day in its communities in support of a new national campaign.

The neighbourhood policing week of action, which launched on Monday (17 January 2022), is recognising and celebrating the vital work local policing teams, officers and volunteers do all year round to serve their communities, keep them safe and tackle those issues that matter most to members of the public.

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