Police preparing for Lancs pubs demand to be like New Year’s Eve
Written by Skywave Radio News on July 2, 2020
Lancashire Police is preparing its officers for a night as busy as New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve as pubs reopen on Saturday (July 4).
Ch Insp Sam Mackenzie, from Lancashire Constabulary, did not confirm just how many police officers will be on patrol over the weekend.
But in an interview with LancsLive, he said numbers will be “similar to one of our busiest nights of the year”.
He said the “unknown eventualities” surrounding the day have made preparations tough, adding the situation is “not like anything we have seen before”.
And the chief inspector said those who do not obey social distancing rules as they become more inebriated will face the consequences of the law if they do not listen to the advice of nearby officers on patrol, with officers ready to take measures to limit the threat of localised lockdowns.
Saturday – the day in over three months drinkers can head to their local – has been dubbed ‘Independence Day’ due to it coinciding with the American holiday.
Pub goers are expected to head out in their droves but have been warned to book tables in advance due to stringent ‘Covid-secure’ rules limiting the numbers allowed inside venues and their beer gardens.
“We know it’s going to be significantly different to the recent Fridays and Saturdays we’ve had,” Ch Insp Mackenzie said.
“But how different? We don’t know. It’s contingency planning.
“Throughout weekends we always have additional resources on Friday and Saturday for the night time economy.”
The chief inspector said that police will be working closely with licensing officers from relevant councils to “make sure we have preparations in place”.
And social distancing inside venues is, on the large, being left to licence holders and local authorities to monitor and act on if there are any issues.
Ch Insp Mackenzie said that there is “always a risk” of antisocial behaviour and violence when pubs are open and alcohol is being consumed, and admitted there may be a spike in such crimes over the weekend.
And regarding those who do not obey social distancing after leaving a pub or bar, Ch Insp Mackenzie told LancsLive that once drinkers “come into the world that we work in” police will exercise arrest powers – but “only when we have to”.
“This is about people making choices that have a collective impact,” Ch Insp Mackenzie said.
“We are asking you to follow guidelines to protect yourselves and the wider population of Lancashire.
“We wouldn’t like to arrive at local lockdowns.”
Police presence will be visible in towns and cities but also smaller villages, with officers “out and about” across the county.
When asked about his thoughts on reopening pubs on a weekend rather than mid-week, where there is typically less pressure on policing the night time economy, Ch Insp MacKenzie said there are “pros and cons to whatever day of the week”.
He added: “Our job is to deal with the circumstances we are dealt.
“We know in Lancashire not all pubs are opening on Saturday. Some are sadly not opening at all.
“And some have delayed by a week or a couple of weeks.
“So it’s going to be a challenge. It’s not like anything we have seen before. We’re preparing for unknown eventualities that may occur.”