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Police and council highlight dangers of pre-drinking before a night out

People are risking their health by pre-drinking with alcohol at home before a night out, say Hampshire Constabulary and the Safer North Hampshire community safety team.

An increasing number of individuals or groups drink to excess before going out for the evening. Once out, they are more likely to drink to further excess, increasing their vulnerability and chances of becoming a victim of crime, or in some rare cases, a perpetrator.

Now, Hampshire Constabulary and the Safer North Hampshire community safety team are joining forces to tackle the issue of pre-drinking and associated nuisance in an effort to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable evening out in Fleet Town Centre in the run up to Christmas.

A series of talks about safe levels of drinking and the dangers of pre-drinking are being planned at local sixth form colleges, and Hampshire Constabulary will be carrying out proactive patrols in Fleet town centre in the run-up to Christmas. Police will also be using powers under section 35 of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to disperse any individuals who arrive in the town excessively drunk.

Inspector Olga Venner, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Fleet town centre is a popular place for people to socialise. We want to make sure that it is safe for them and we wish to reduce the adverse impact on the residents of the town. The licensed premises have a large amount of scrutiny on how they operate but when people arrive already drunk, there is a risk of confrontation and bad behaviour.

“Visitors to Fleet town centre need to know that they can be sent straight out of the town if they arrive drunk because we have powers to disperse people from a locality if antisocial behaviour has occurred or is likely to occur. We will be focusing on this preventative measure in the run up to Christmas.”

Councillor Adrian Collet, Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Community Safety at Hart District Council, said: “We want to ensure that Fleet town centre is a destination for everyone, from families to groups of friends enjoying a night out. Fleet has a multitude of restaurants, pubs and a nightclub, meaning there is something for everyone. We want people to have a safe, clean and friendly experience, and by working in partnership with Hampshire Police, Safer North Hampshire, Environmental Health, Licensing and local night time economy venues, we hope to decrease incidents of drink-fuelled nuisance, violent incidents and also disturbance to local residents.”

Hart District Council Licensing would also like to remind visitors to the town centre to only use properly licensed vehicles and pre-book their vehicle, when possible, to ensure availability. More information is available about taxi requirements by visiting www.hart.gov.uk or calling the Licensing team on 01252 622122.

Other ways to stay safe on a night out include:

• Never leave your drink unattended
• Do not accept a drink from someone you do not know – if you think your drink has been tampered with, do not drink it. Tell a trusted friend or relative immediately. Some bars provide plastic stoppers for bottles, which can reduce the risk of drinks being spiked

Hart District Council will also be promoting Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from Monday (November 13), focusing on how alcohol affects families, individuals and communities as a whole. More information and advice is available by visiting www.alcoholconcern.org.uk.