‘Black Friday’ turns out to be surprisingly all white!

PUBLISHED: 08:50 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 12:05 22 December 2010

Riot van - Weston

Riot van - Weston

pdc

IT WAS tipped to be one of the busiest nights of the year, but the notorious ‘Black Friday’ turned out to be one of the quietest in recent memory for Weston’s police.

PC Simon Robinson and PC Samantha Neale

Revellers out on festive work parties and the resort’s usual pub-goers traditionally head out in force the weekend before Christmas, dubbed Black Friday, so I thought what better time to head out on patrol with Weston’s police team?

But my plans - like so many others this week - were disrupted by the arrival of seven inches of snow.

This meant that Weston town centre - from the usual busy Regent Street strip of bars to Cheers in the High Street - was dead.

Although this is good news for the police – not having to wrestle yobs in town or dish out cautions for those caught urinating in public – I was disappointed.

PC Simon Robinson and PC Samantha Neale

This meant my chances of seeing the force in action were greatly reduced. But undeterred, I got kitted up for snow and headed onto the streets.

Knowing that most crimes, particularly of a violent nature, tend to take place between 11pm-3am at the weekend, on Friday I joined up with PC Simon Robinson and PC Samantha Neale at the Walliscote Road police station to begin the late shift.

In total there were eight officers on duty for Operation Jurisdiction, the style of policing that features high visibility foot patrol in the town centre to minimise disorder, and 11 PCs on duty for ‘core response policing’, who respond to 999 calls in the Weston neighbourhood.

Operation Jurisdiction was headed up by Inspector Damian Morley and officers took to the icy streets from about 10.30pm.

Our first stop was to check out the CCTV control room at the Town Hall and I was instantly impressed with the amount of cameras and the quality of the images – far better than some of the blurry grey images you see on BBC’s Crimewatch show.

The CCTV team is in regular contact with the police 24 hours a day and PC Robinson said it plays a ‘crucial’ part in helping track down the night-time felons.

After a quick stop it was off to Wags Bar in James Street for a licence check as the venue is under new management.

Officers checked the doorman’s ID before scouting out the venue which included checking CCTV equipment and scanning along the toilet cisterns to check for traces of drugs.

Details from the inspection, which appeared to go well, are then passed to North Somerset Council to help officers when deciding whether to grant the bar a full licence.

From then on it was thorough patrols in the freezing snow around the whole of the town centre from the Grand Pier to Grove Park.

We popped into the riot van to take a spin around the town to check for trouble before it was parked up at the top of Regent Street to serve as a reminder to all that the police are there.

A lot of comments were made towards officers, but of a very friendly nature and involved the standard British jokes about the weather – despite the six inches of snow and blizzard conditions.

As the night went on and we approached 1am I was getting the feeling that the confiscation of a glass bottle in Pier Square was going to be as wild as it got – which made my housemate’s question about whether or not I would have to wear a bullet proof vest that night even more amusing.

After I headed home I later discovered that one fixed penalty was issued for a public order offence but Weston’s 12-cell custody suite remained empty that night as no arrests were made.

Inspector Morley said: “The expectation was for the police to be very busy over the course of the past weekend.

“The weather certainly played a big role in keeping people indoors and as Friday evening went on, this was certainly the case in Weston.

“We were prepared for the weekend to be busy and had significant numbers of resources available.”

Saturday was also a quiet night with just four separate arrests of men aged from 21-32.

These included one being drunk and disorderly in a public place, an assault, possession of drugs and one affray.

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