This is certainly a very important goal. And we hope that the campaign will raise awareness of, and ultimately reduce, violence in the night-time economy. It also raises the question: exactly how dangerous is a night out in Britain?
The British night out – whether it’s pre-drinks, followed by the club, and finishing with a visit to your favourite kebab shop; or a few at the pub, a house party and ending the night with, again (as all good nights out do), a visit to the kebab shop – has become as much of a tradition as fish and chips.
It’s no secret that Britons love a good night out. Indeed, the night-time economy accounts for about six percent of UK GDP (that’s about £66 billion annually.)
Although the vast majority of those going on a night out do so with no intention of getting into altercations, the combination of elevated emotions and alcohol can often lead to less than ideal situations.
In fact, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies:
• Sixty-two percent of all violent incidents occurred over the weekend.
• Sixty-one percent of all violent incidents occurred at night (especially between the hours of 10pm and 6am).
• Almost half of 30,000 people surveyed in the North West will avoid the town centre at night due to drunken behaviour.
The SIA reports that:
• Seventy percent of door staff have been physically assaulted at work.
• Ninety-six percent of door staff have suffered violence or physical abuse at work.
• Forty-four percent of door staff have needed hospital treatment after being assaulted at work.
And the most recent NHS figures show that in 2016/17, there were 337,000 estimated A&E admissions where the main reason for admission was attributable to alcohol (17 percent higher than the figures for 2006/7).
Statistics such as these make it clear that people on a night out, as well as night-time economy workers, face an increased risk of violence and injury. To make nights out safer for everyone, the Government laid out a strategy for tackling irresponsible drinking and the violence it leads to in 2015. This included:
• Improving local intelligence so that decisions taken about the sale of alcohol and the management of the evening and night-time economy are based on reliable data and the latest evidence.
• Establishing effective local partnerships where all those involved in the operation and management of the evening and night-time economy work together, so that people can enjoy a safe night out without fear of becoming a victim of alcohol-related crime or disorder, whilst also enabling local economies to grow.
• Equipping the police and local authorities with the right powers so they can prevent problems and take swift and decisive action after they have occurred.
However, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, this strategy is likely to have only a minimal impact on crime prevention due to its failure to address key, well-evidenced issues such as pricing.
As such, it’s wise that people going on nights out are aware of some of the simple things they can do to stay safe.
There are several things you can do to ensure you have fun and stay safe on nights out. We’ve listed three areas that everyone should be aware of before heading out of the front door.
Drink spiking involves someone secretly mixing a substance into another person’s drink. The intention is often to alter the victim’s state of mind, lower inhibitions or induce physiological changes that make them more susceptible to criminal actions (such as robbery, physical assault or sexual assault).
Criminals use a variety of substances to spike drinks, including Rohypnol. It was reported in September last year that incidents of drink spiking had doubled over a three-year period. As such, it’s important that you know how to minimise your chances of having your drink spiked.
To avoid having your drink spiked:
• Buy your own drinks and watch the bartender make it.
• Refuse drinks from strangers.
• Keep an eye on your drink (and ask a friend to watch it if you need to leave for any amount of time).
• Try to buy bottles that come with a screw-top lid. Take the bottle with you when you go to the toilet or have a dance.
• Don’t consume a drink you believe may have been spiked.
• Report any suspicious activity to the bar manager or host.
If you believe that you have consumed a spiked drink, tell the people you are with, bar staff and contact the police if your symptoms are not severe. Try to keep hold of the drink as this can provide vital evidence. If your symptoms are more severe, go to A&E or contact a paramedic immediately.
A night out will typically bring you into contact with people you don’t know. Although most of the people you meet are just out to have a good time, you should keep in mind that not everyone is as friendly as they seem.
In order to remain safe amongst new people:
• Stay alert. By bearing in mind that there is a possibility you will encounter certain unpleasant individuals, you will be better placed to spot suspicious behaviour early.
• Don’t give personal information – such as your phone number and, most importantly, your address – to strangers. If you feel pressured to your give out your phone number, change one digit.
• Never accept lifts from strangers.
• Remember that it is your right not to go anywhere or do anything with anyone. If you feel uncomfortable, walk away from the situation.
• Stay with your friends. There is safety in numbers, so do not go off on your own with someone or a group of people you’ve just met.
Although confrontations and fights may take place in venues such as pubs and bars, other types of crime (such as robbery and sexual assault) are more likely to take place in the street. This means you should have a plan for how to get home safely.
To make your journey home as safe as possible:
• Pre-plan your route home before you go out. Knowing exactly how you will get home will avoid confusion at the end of a night out. If you are in an unfamiliar place, make sure to investigate travel options in advance.
• Make sure that someone knows where you are and how you are getting home. You may also want to consider location sharing so that someone you trust can see exactly where you are at all times.
• Don’t wander off on your own. If you decide you need to go home before everyone else, tell your friends that you are leaving, ensure you are contactable and make sure you travel home using public transportation, a legitimate taxi service or a well-lit route.
• Don’t take an unlicensed cab. Unlicensed taxis are not tracked and the people driving them have not been vetted. As such, choosing to get into an unlicensed cab means placing your safety in the hands of a stranger whose motives for getting people into their car are completely unknown. See 5 Ways to Stay Safe in Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles to find out more.
• You and your friends should let each other know that you have got home safely. If someone fails to send such a message, others will be able to take action to ensure they are okay quickly.
If you are worried about walking alone at night, check out our article: 6 Tips for Staying Safe When Walking at Night.
On the whole, the worst thing about most nights on the town is the inevitable hangover the next day and a handful of blurred, embarrassing memories. That said, it is important that you know how to stay safe at night. If you are unlucky enough to encounter a potentially dangerous situation, you need to know how to act accordingly – ensuring you and your friends stay safe.
Churchill Security is a national security provider and a member of the ACS Pacesetters. We provide the most highly-trained, SIA-licensed guards to ensure that our clients’ staff, customers and property remain secure. Our cost-effective security solutions are tailored to each of our clients’ specific requirements.