REVELLERS are being urged to be on the alert for opportunistic criminals when they are out celebrating during the party season.
Police Scotland and their partners are advising people to watch out for pick-pockets, unlicensed taxis and drink-spiking to ensure they stay safe on nights-out over the festive period.
The force has teamed up with British Transport Police, NHS, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Best Bar None and other organisations to drive home the message as part of a festive safety campaign.
Last year there were 2,389 small offences on the last weekend before Christmas, more than any other in December.
Police believe many of the incidents, including minor assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace, were fuelled by alcohol.
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They are urging people to drink responsibly and take other steps to ensure they stay safe such as sticking with friends, planning the journey home and avoiding using drugs or New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), so-called “legal highs”.
Inspector Scott Tees, from Safer Communities at Police Scotland, said: “The final weekend before Christmas is always the busiest time with people having office parties and nights-out.
“It’s also very alluring to the opportunistic criminal, who preys on people who’ve had a bit too much to drink.
“Keep an eye on your drink, your bag and your jacket, stay away from illicit substances and NPS products, and watch for unlicensed taxis.
“It is the party season, so have a great time, but try and drink responsibly, as the more you drink the more your judgement is clouded and you can be less aware of what’s happening around you.
“Your safety is a priority and it’s essential that you plan your night. Charge and have your mobile phone on you, know where you’re friends are and plan your journey home.
“A few simple precautions will help prevent people from becoming victims of crime. Reducing any unnecessary risks will allow everyone to have a great time when partying over the festive period.”
As part of the campaign a network of organisations will be on hand to offer crime prevention advice to people out socialising.
Best Bar None, the 450-strong membership organisation that rewards bars for promoting responsible drinking, and the stewarding company SGL will spread the message across pubs nationally whilst local on-the-ground partners such as TOA Taxis and the Glasgow Community Safety Partnership will help people on city streets get home safely.
David Duthie, of Best Bar None Scotland, said: “Best Bar None is an integral part of the Safer Areas Initiatives throughout Scotland and aims to positively enhance the night-time economy by rewarding venues which promote a responsible drinking environment.
“We want you to enjoy yourselves over the festive period, however we would encourage responsible drinking and to plan ahead.
“Before you go out, make sure your phone is charged and plan how you are going to get home by pre-booking a licensed taxi or by making sure you know the times for your train or bus.”
Former Miss Scotland and Riverside Show TV presenter Jennifer Reoch helped launch the initiative at Merchant Square in Glasgow.
She said: “Everyone loves going out at Christmas time but it’s so important to be responsible and keep yourself and your belongings safe.
“I always make sure my friends know where I am and plan ahead about how we’re getting home. Have a great Christmas but look after yourself.”
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