/ Walk away from trouble this New Year's Eve

Greater Manchester Police is urging people to drink responsibly and walk away from trouble this New Year’s Eve if they do not want to see 2013 in from behind bars.

The warning comes after seven stabbings took place across Greater Manchester between 25 and 27 December.

Officers say that New Year’s Eve can be the busiest time of the year for them in relation to alcohol-fuelled violence and domestic abuse, and that they will be out in force on the night to protect potential victims, ensure people have a safe night out and put offenders behind bars.

Figures for last New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day show that reports of violent crime and domestic abuse doubled on those two days compared to the average daily number for the rest of December 2011.  There were 236 violent crimes and 137 incidents of domestic abuse reported in total on the two days last year.

To tackle the potential spike in violent incidents divisional, Special and specialist operations officers will be patrolling trouble hotspots in town and city centres urging revellers to drink responsibly and advising them how to avoid falling prey to thieves and get home safely.  They will also be on the look-out for trouble makers and nipping any potential disorder in the bud before it has a chance to escalate.

Officers say that excessive alcohol consumption can decrease people’s awareness of what is going on around them, increasing their chances of becoming a victim of crime or being drawn into violent confrontations.

Excessive drinking mixed with heightened family tensions, unrealistic expectations and financial worries can also lead to increases in domestic violence.  Specially trained domestic abuse officers will be working over the holiday period to support domestic violence victims and take robust action against abusers.

Karen Harrison, Service Manager for Greater Manchester’s Domestic Abuse Helpline, said: "While most people will enjoy the festive period, for some women and their children this is a time when domestic abuse increases. Please don’t suffer in silence, and remember there is help and support available.  If you need to speak to somebody in confidence, call us on 0161 636 7525 or visit www.endthefear.co.uk” 

People can follow what police are doing to fight crime and keep them safe this time of year on GMP’s social media networks that include Twitter (using #Walkaway) Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and AudioBoo.

They can also use these sites to find out what officers are doing to fight crime in their neighbourhood, comment on police activity and get advice on how they can keep themselves and their property safe from criminals.

ACC Terry Sweeney said: “We want people to enjoy New Year’s Eve, get home safely and have a Happy New Year.  They are more likely to do this if they pace their drinks, walk away from any trouble that may flare up and watch out for each other.

“We will also be on standby to respond to reports of domestic violence and would urge anyone suffering in silence to call us on 101.  They can be assured that we will take them seriously and support them through getting out of an abusive relationship. They should ring us on 999 in an emergency if they are in immediate danger.

“At this time of year people reflect on the past and plan for the future. Now is the time to resolve that violence will not play a part in your life either as a victim or perpetrator. Please drink responsibly, walk away from trouble and have a safe and happy New Year”.

Police have the following advice on how to enjoy a safe night out…

Pace your drinks:
• To enjoy a longer night out pace your drinks and drink plenty of water.
• Always try to eat something before a night out. This will help slow down the absorption of alcohol.
• If you feel too drunk, switch to soft drinks for a while. Water will rehydrate your brain, help stop dizziness, lessen the hangover pain and help prevent queasiness.

Friends stay together:
• Go into town together and leave together. Do not wander off from your friends without letting anyone know where you are going and arrange a meeting point in case you do become separated.

Walk away from trouble:
• Be polite. If you accidentally spill someone's drink or bang in to them then apologise.
• Walk away from trouble. If a friend starts becoming aggressive, calm them down and encourage them to sober up with a few soft drinks.

Take safe transport:
• When planning to go out, plan to get home safely.
• Try to pre-book a taxi before going out and arrange to be picked up from a safe, well lit, meeting point.
• Find out where taxi ranks are and try to choose staffed ones.
• If alone, book a taxi firm you know and trust. Do not get into a private hire car (they look like a normal car) unless you have booked them first. Only hackney carriages (traditional black cabs) are insured to carry passengers who have flagged them down. Always sit in the back, preferably behind the driver.
• Some pubs and clubs will book you a taxi and allow you to wait in their premises.

Night bus:
• Night buses run until around 3am in parts of Greater Manchester. Find out when the last bus leaves so that you don't become stranded.
• Try to catch the bus from stops with bus loaders. If there aren't any in your town, use well-lit bus stops in busy areas.
• If alone, sit as near to the driver as possible and avoid empty upper decks. Tell the driver or guard if someone bothers you.

• Avoid walking home alone. If you have no other choice, walk in the middle of the pavement and avoid short cuts through dimly lit deserted areas. Face on-going traffic where you can be seen as this will avoid the surprise of a vehicle approaching from behind.
• If you think you are being followed, cross the street several times if necessary. If you still think you are being followed, walk to the busiest area you can find or knock on somebody's door. There are various help points in Manchester city centre that are linked to a CCTV operator.

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