Safety Initiatives in the Night Time Economy

In the run up to Christmas and during the World Cup venues have been promoting and implementing measures in their premises to help keep people safe. There are also many examples of town and city-wide approaches that have been implemented to effectively tackle these issues.  Here our Senior Projects Officer (Isaac Heatlie) and Projects Support Officer (Traci Obeng) look at some examples of strategies and partnership approaches taken by different towns and cities in the UK.

Safety and the protection of vulnerable people is a crucial issue in the evening and night time economy (ENTE).  It is a current priority of the UK Home Office, which has recently invested millions in various towns and cities through the Safer Streets Fund. Some examples of existing initiatives to reduce vulnerability include the following:

City Wide Strategies

Bristol Rules

Bristol Rules is a night safety campaign led by the Bristol Nights partnership (which comprises the local authority, universities and venues in the city).  This new strategy sets out ‘rules’ for revellers to follow in order to have a fun and safe night out. This campaign is broad and uses engaging and accessible messaging to encourage people to keep safe on their nights out.  Bristol Rules was launched as venues began to re-open and is largely aimed at students as the launch was timed with their return to university.  The rules are:

  • Bristol Rules No.1 – Out Together Home Together
  • Bristol Rules No.2 – Call It Out
  • Bristol Rules No.3 – Don’t Be A Creep
  • Bristol Rules No.4 – Respect Everyone
  • Bristol Rules No.5 – Keep Away From The Edge
  • Bristol Rules No.6 – Take It Easy

Each of these rules has guidance and resources attached so that people know how to help themselves and others.  These can be seen on the Bristol Rules website and there has also been a large marketing campaign with more than 1,000 billboards and posters put up around the city.

Colchester Nights of Action

Colchester run quarterly Nights of Action on Friday or Saturday nights from 9.00 pm to 3.00 am. These Nights of Action are conducted with a strong partnership approach involving high visibility patrols from Essex Police, council licensing, night wardens, environmental health staff, the noise team, parking inspectors and the Security Industry Authority (SIA). They carry out joint enforcement inspections in the town centre ensuring premises have risk assessments and are adhering to licence conditions, these enforcement and inspection checks also extend to taxis and private hires.

National Campaigns and Schemes

There are a number of campaigns and schemes run by community interest groups and partnerships that specialise in supporting the setting up of night safety strategies and the implementation of measures to improve safety in venues.  An example of one of these schemes is the Good Night Out Campaign.  This focuses on prevention of and response to sexual harassment and assault by supporting venues and local authorities to put measures in place.  They do this by providing specialist training for venues, policy support and running an accreditation scheme too.

Women’s Night Time Safety Charter

The Women’s Safety Charter is an initiative that has been introduced to improve the safety for all women in the ENTE. This charter is specifically aimed at employers with a female workforce who are at work between 6pm to 6am. It is intended to enable organisations to prioritise the safety of women, both workers and customers.  It provides a practical guide accompanied with a training programme inviting businesses to take a zero-tolerance stance on the harassment of women. Many cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol have implemented or established a charter.

Citizen patrols

‘Citizen patrols’ is a generic term that refers to a range of different models of the public voluntarily carrying out patrols in local areas. The theory is that the presence of guardians could help to identify and support vulnerable individuals and deter perpetrators.

The West Midlands StreetWatch is a community led initiative where volunteers patrol their local neighbourhoods to promote good citizenship and improve the reporting of issues to police. These patrols do not have police powers but are a valuable function in increasing uniform presence and deterring crime.

Street pastors are a church-run volunteer organisation that provide outreach service to users of the ENTE, often in partnership with the police. This citizen patrol model has a greater focus on supporting users of the night time economy and keeping them safe.

These volunteer models are incredibly effective, but in recent projects we have worked on with various towns and cities it has been noted that volunteer numbers are considerably lower after the pandemic and several of these schemes have ceased operating due to low volunteer numbers.

Safe Spaces

Safe spaces can be useful in tackling issues associated with night safety such as excessive consumption of alcohol, protection of vulnerable people and just general concerns such as people getting lost.  These safe spaces are usually staffed with volunteers from organisations such as Street Angels, paramedics, police etc.  They are there to provide support and shelter to anyone in the ENTE who needs it.

One of these safe spaces, the Safe Haven, is in Wolverhampton where it is funded by Enjoy Wolverhampton BID.  This safe space provides people with somewhere warm to wait for a licensed taxi at the end of a night out and also gives people a place to get support should they need it for any reason.  Whilst the space is funded by the BID, this is very much a partnership scheme with the city council and police supporting the initiative too.

Ask For Angela

The safety initiative ‘Ask for Angela’ is being rolled out to bars, clubs and other licensed businesses across London and other towns and cities.  People who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist them. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.

Purple Flag

Purple Flag is an accreditation process similar to the Green Flag award for parks and the Blue Flag for beaches. It leads to Purple Flag status for town & city centres that meet or surpass the standards of excellence in managing the evening and night time economy (ENTE).

A comprehensive set of standards, management processes and good practice examples designed to help transform with a research, training and development programme, improving a town and city centre’s ENTE. It is a positive initiative that supports an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out throughout the UK and Ireland and is now being taken up internationally.

Best Bar None

Another one of these national schemes is Best Bar None, an accreditation scheme supported by the Home Office and drinks industry that aims to improve standards in the ENTE through a combination of responsible management and operation of licensed premises, ongoing improvements, and social responsibility, Best Bar None’s goal is to help provide a safer night out to all.  Any ENTE premises can get accredited under the Best Bar None Central Scheme or a regional scheme can be set up by the local authority or BID.

National Pubwatch

National Pubwatch is a voluntary organisation set up to promote best practice through supporting the work of local Pubwatch Schemes. Its aim is to achieve a safer drinking environment in all licensed premises throughout the UK.  Pubwatch also work nationally with organisations to promote initiatives and campaigns focussed on safety around alcohol consumption and in the ENTE generally.  A great example of this is their vulnerability training partnership with Drinkaware.  This training is focussed on alcohol vulnerability and is available for free to any premises that wishes to access it.  Pubwatch also provide video resources on a number of topics to support venues operations.

Don’t Drink and Drown Campaign

It is important to remember that night safety isn’t just about keeping people safe in venues like clubs and bars, it is about ensuring the safety of a place as a whole at night, including all aspects of the ENTE such as transport and late night food establishments.  Once in a town and city many people will walk from place to place, so measures need to be put in place to ensure their safety.  This is especially true for cities with rivers/canals and coastal towns where there is a risk that people could fall into the water.  The Royal Lifesaving Society have an annual campaign titled ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’, also supported by the Canal and River Trust.  This campaign seeks to remind people of the risks of being drunk near waterways, encouraging people to look after each other and try to find alternative routes away from water. 

Police Strategies

The strategies, campaigns and approaches employed by the police force in a town or city are crucial to supporting safety in the ENTE and police forces often work in partnership with other local organisations to ensure this is the case.  They also have their own strategies and campaigns that aim to prevent issues around safety arising in the NTE. 

Some examples of these are listed below:

West Yorkshire Police Night Out Survival Guide

West Yorkshire Police produced this guide to support people to have a fun and safe night out.  This messaging focusses on what people can do themselves to stay safe and how they can access support whilst also targeting potential perpetrators of sexual violence with messaging directed at them.  In busier periods, such as summer and Christmas, the force runs an operation that aims at reducing the number of sexual offences.  This seasonal operation is run in partnership with volunteers from the NHS, Probation Services, Street Angels and night marshals to provide support to anyone who needs it.

North Wales Police ‘Would a Sober You?’ Campaign

Messaging directed at people who are out in the ENTE can be useful in keeping people safe as it can help them change or reconsider their behaviours and actions.  North Wales Police did this with their ‘Would a Sober You?’ campaign.  This campaign encourages people to consider what they are doing on a night out whilst reminding them to look out for themselves and their friends.

Police Scotland Don’t Be That Guy Campaign

The Don’t Be That Guy Campaign looks to educate men on issues around women’s safety whilst also encouraging them to consider the behaviour of their friends and themselves too.  This is potential perpetrator focussed messaging that is effective as it is educational rather than accusative, making it arguably more effective at changing problematic behaviours.

Seasonal Safety Campaigns

Seasons give rise to different safety issues and can increase footfall in city centres too.  The seasonal campaign below is a good example of effective messaging that can be used to remind revellers about these different risks and the increased footfall too.

Police Scotland Christmas Night Out Safety Campaign

Do you have a successful vulnerability initiative in your area? We would love to hear about it and add it to this blog. If so, or if you’d like to talk to us about working together, please get in touch on hello@sixtillsix.com.