All quiet on streets... but not for long

Blackpool Police Officers preparing for their New Year's Eve operation. Inspector Matt Willmot and Gazette reporter Liz Broughton.
Blackpool Police Officers preparing for their New Year's Eve operation. Inspector Matt Willmot and Gazette reporter Liz Broughton.
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Crime reporter ELIZABETH BROUGHTON joins police for a hectic New Year shift.

As the clock struck 12 and Blackpool welcomed in 2013, the resort’s streets were deserted.

Inside the town’s pubs and clubs partygoers counted down as the bongs of Big Ben rang out to herald the New Year.

Half an hour later and there was bedlam.

Police officers raced to a report of a man who had fallen from a bridge into the Houndshill Shopping Centre’s service yard, with the New Year barely half an hour old.

And in Blackpool’s custody suite on Bonny Street, a quarter of the cells were already full, with the first arrest for 2013 arriving as the clock struck 12 when a man was detained after an alleged attack with an iron bar on Newbury Avenue in South Shore.

Insp Matt Willmot, in charge of overseeing the town’s policing operation, said: “On New Year’s Eve we have doubled the number of staff as on a regular Friday or Saturday night. It’s the only way I can get mass resources and have enough yellow coats on the streets – we take a firm but fair approach and try to be reasonable with people.”

Rather than fill the cells, one town centre reveller on Queen Street was made the subject of a town centre banning order early in 2013 following a scuffle.

A second man was later ordered to walk home with his girlfriend after a brawl in the FeastAbout takeaway.

And resources had to be dragged away from the resort’s streets after a man plunged around 30ft from the bridge close to the Sands Centre, suffering suspected internal and leg injuries in the fall.

Minutes later a man was arrested after he was spotted by the police helicopter on the sea steps close to the Sandcastle.

By 2am the number in the cells had risen to 16, including two suspected drink drivers, four people arrested on suspicion of assault and three people arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Twelve more were locked up by 4am including a violent man who tried to fight off police on Queen Street and a man detained on suspicion of assault after getting into a fight outside Walkabout.

Insp Willmot added: “We would always rather have people in town because of the yellow coat effect, that influences behaviour.”

At the end of the night 32 cells were full.

Insp Jason Richardson said: “Although demand for us was high it has been relatively quiet in the cells for New Year’s Eve, arrest is a last resort and people have behaved themselves.

“It’s been a noticeably quieter Christmas and New Year period in the town centre.”

n A 40-year-old man, from South Shore, who was arrested on suspicion of assault has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Police were called to Newbury Avenue, South Shore, at around 10.50pm on New Year’s Eve after a man was allegedly attacked with an iron dumb-bell, leaving him with cuts and swelling.