Stepping in early to stop violence

Insp Laura Lawler and Sgt Dave Lavin from Blackpool Police
Insp Laura Lawler and Sgt Dave Lavin from Blackpool Police
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EARLY intervention and high visibility are key in clamping down on violent behaviour.

That was the message from Blackpool police when The Gazette spent a night touring the resort with police to find out just what they are up against.

Latest figures show all violent crime in Blackpool and Fylde has risen from 5,409 incidents in 2009/2010 to 5,525 last year – a rise of 2.1 per cent.

Serious violent crime has rocketed from 250 incidents to 332 and according to the Government’s crime website, most violent crime seems to explode on town centre streets.

But it’s clear on the corner of every trouble hot spot – Talbot Square, Springfield Road and Queen Street – there’s a vision of reassurance from the bobbies on the beat.

They are in position every weekend night as part of Operation ASLAN and come bank holidays with the stampede of extra visitors, the police step up their resources and Operation Arrival comes into play.

Insp Laura Lawler, who will take up the role as Blackpool’s new inspector in May, said: “We want people to have a good time in Blackpool

“Rather than wait for people to fight, we take early intervention.”

The finger of blame for the sudden increase in violent crime in Blackpool is pointed at booze and increasing visitor numbers.

Insp Lawler added: “More people are coming here rather than going abroad since the recession.”

And Sgt Dave Lavin, from Blackpool Police, added: “Blackpool is family friendly during the day, but I think we’re getting more stag and hen parties.

“The idea of the changes to licensing laws was to stop peaks and troughs at pub and club closing times. But it’s just constant now and people have got longer to drink.”

New technology and better training is helping the police combat the war on booze-fuelled violence.

Insp Lawler added: “We have got CCTV to pick things out and having better trained door staff is also a massive help.

“It’s all about having a presence and using our powers under the drunk and disorderly act before it turns into a fight or assault.”

On the night The Gazette toured the streets with officers one man was arrested and charged for assault, two people were arrested for drink and disorderly offences and fined £80, and two more were arrested and cautioned for possession of class A and class B drugs. A section 27 notice was also issued.

Insp Lawler added: “It was a busy night but most people were well behaved. They were just out to have a good time.”

The Night Safe Haven, which launched on Saturday, has proved itself a good addition to help vulnerable people in the town centre.

Leah Emerson, Safe Haven bus co-ordinator, said: “We spoke to hundreds of people. Paramedics looked after a girl who thought she’d had her drink spiked and the nurses took care of a young man who was very intoxicated.

“It’s going to be a big asset.”