EMERGENCY services in Wigan are gearing up for the busiest and what could be the toughest night of the year.
And they today warned local party-goers to drink responsibly and stay safe on what has come to be known as “Mad Friday.”
There will be extra police on the town’s streets on the Friday before Christmas to offer reassurance to the thousands out socialising.
Officers from the Specialist Operations Branch, CCTV, ANPR, transport inspectors, and special constables will be used to supplement local officers policing hotspots throughout the weekend.
Insp Darren Kershaw said: “Victims of alcohol-related crime become more vulnerable or make wrong decisions when they have had too much to drink.
“It is also important to be aware that some people take advantage of others who have been drinking alcohol.
“However, by remembering a few easy steps to look after each other, plan a safe route home, have a soft drink in-between alcoholic drinks and stay with friends, people will reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime or violence.”
In Wigan measures will include “iron horse” barriers to monitor and corral visitors to King Street coupled with a knife arch to check for weapons.
But it is not just the police who are on stand-by on Mad Friday. Paramedics usually find themselves rushed off their feet dealing with countless patients who have drunk themselves into unsconsciousness or are victims of alcohol-fuelled violence.
The North West Ambulance Service’s Director of Emergency Services, Derek Cartwright said: “We are not trying to put a dampener on the festive season, we are simply asking that party goers take a sensible and moderate approach.
“This is one of the busiest nights of what is already a challenging time of the year for the ambulance service.
“We respond to many alcohol related calls, many of which can be avoided. In genuine life-threatening emergencies, time matters.
If people stop and think about drink this Christmas and take a sensible approach, they can play their part in ensuring ambulance crews are free to attend to vulnerable and very poorly people.”
General guidelines are also being given to revellers about getting safely home using private hire vehicles, including:
l Check they are genuine by ensuring they have yellow plates on the vehicle’s rear;
l Make sure they are pre-booked – someone just flagging one down may be getting into a vehicle whose insurance is no longer valid and could even be a bogus vehicle;
l Use a private hire firm that the customer knows;
l Alternatively, flag down a Hackney Carriage.