Issued by Northern Constabulary
Northern Constabulary and partners involved in Operation Respect are praising revellers and the public after the first three weekends socialising in the run-up to Christmas.
Partners have witnessed a reduction in the number of incidents they have been dealing with thanks to the multi-agency operation.
'Mad Friday,' is the name commonly used for the night where most people go into town for their staff Christmas parties. On that day in 2007, prior to Operation Respect, police dealt with sixteen incidents of disorder, including breach of the peace, assault and public drunkenness within the city centre. Other agencies such as the Scottish Ambulance Service also attended a high number of calls that year.
However, since Operation Respect began in 2008, there has been a notable drop in the number of incidents police and emergency services have had to deal with.
This year 'Mad Friday,' fell on December 16 and police were only required to deal with nine alcohol related incidents. The reduction is in part due to the increased police presence and visibility of other agencies on the streets through Operation Respect, which ensures a co-ordinated and partnership based approach.
Inspector Stephen Davren, Northern Constabulary's Operation Respect lead, said: "One of the aims of Operation Respect is to reduce incidents of violence and disorder within the city centre as a result of increased alcohol consumption.
"Last Friday which is traditionally known as 'Mad Friday,' we dealt with 9 alcohol related incidents compared to 16 for the same period in 2007.
"There is an increased police presence within the city centre during the festive period and this along with the work done by partners and the responsible behaviour shown by the public is having a positive effect."
Operation Respect, run by the Inverness Community Safety Partnership, involves Northern Constabulary, Highland Council, Stagecoach, Taxi Marshals, Inverness BID, the British Red Cross and the Street Pastors amongst others. All these agencies have representatives in and around the city centre throughout the festive season to maximise public safety.
Night buses have been running since 2nd December and will continue to do so in the run up to the New Year to ensure revellers get home safely. Taxi Marshals are also in place to reduce tensions at taxi ranks as a result of the increased consumption of alcohol.
Nigel Stafford, British Red Cross Emergency Response Senior Services Manager, said: "People appear to be taking a responsible attitude towards their alcohol consumption. We have had patrols on each weekend during December and the number of incidents we have had to deal with has been minimal.
"Operation Respect is a good example of team working between agencies to ensure the safety of the public and it is certainly having the desired effect."
Mark Hadfield, Inverness Street Pastors Co-ordinator, said: "Inverness Street Pastor volunteers have been out each weekend during the month of December."
"We've seen very few drink related incidents in the run-up to Christmas and this has been reflected in our dealings with the public. We have worked alongside the other partners to ensure that the streets of Inverness are safe and that the public are reassured that assistance is readily available if required."
Although last Friday was officially 'Mad Friday', it is anticipated that the coming weekend will be particularly busy and revellers are reminded to drink responsibly, look after each other and plan how they are going to get home at the end of the night.