Rossendale Free Press

Police op will guard against drink spikers

- STUART PIKE @stuartpike­78

LANCASHIRE Police launched a new operation designed to protect pub and club goers during the busy festive period and beyond.

Operation Night Guardian is the force’s proactive response to deterring and detecting spiking offences.

The operation will involve increased patrols in and around licensed premises by plain clothed and uniformed officers who will be there to reassure revellers and look out for suspicious activity and offending behaviour.

A range of practical measures to help prevent and detect spiking offences will include the rollout of special drink testing kits, allowing police and licensees to act quickly to reports of suspected spikings, which officers hope will help to deter offences and raise the risk of offenders being caught.

Funded by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commission­er, it forms part of the force’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategy in creating a safer environmen­t and addressing personal safety concerns.

Chief Inspector Jill Halliwell said they want people to feel reassured that they can enjoy a safe night out with friends or family.

She said: “We already police the night-time economy and have good relationsh­ips with licensees but Operation Night Guardian will build on that work targeting amongst other things, offences of suspected drink spiking.”

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dawson added: “We know that drink spiking is an issue of concern for people and, whilst we have had a limited number of reports in Lancashire, we want to reassure the public that we are responding positively to their concerns and taking firm action to ensure they can enjoy their nights out safely.

“Over the coming weeks and months, together with licensees, we will be using a range of tactics to keep people safe and doing all we can to identify offenders, gain evidence and pursue criminal prosecutio­ns for offences including spiking.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commission­er

Andrew Snowden added: “Operation Night Guardian has my full support and I have made additional funding available to help tackle violence against women and girls in the night-time economy, which includes the prevention of drink spiking incidents here in Lancashire.

“I will continue to work closely with the constabula­ry and our partners in the night-time economy to ensure that people across Lancashire can enjoy their night out without feeling unsafe or worrying about drink spiking.”

For more informatio­n about drink spiking, how to avoid it and what to do if you think have been a victim of this crime visit www. Spike-Aware

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