Police tackle alcohol-fuelled trouble

A YOUNG woman worse for wear staggers along Britannia Pier mouthing off her frustration at being thrown out of a nightclub for fighting. Screaming at the top of her voice she hurls abuse at the doormen and police officers who escort her from the pier.

A YOUNG woman worse for wear staggers along Britannia Pier mouthing off her frustration at being thrown out of a nightclub for fighting.

Screaming at the top of her voice she hurls abuse at the doormen and police officers who escort her from the pier.

After five minutes there is no let-up in her erratic behaviour, fuelled by alcohol.

Officers surround the woman and manage to calm her down before she heads home.

Sadly, this is a familiar sight for officers covering Great Yarmouth's busy Marine Parade on a weekend.

While police made no arrests on the seafront on Saturday night, figures released last week showed that the number of woman and girls being arrested for being drunk and disorderly had shot up by 73pc in Norfolk over the past five years.

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Patrolling the streets with a team of six officers on Saturday night was Sgt Steve Ansett who admitted women can often be “more difficult” to deal with than men.

Extra staff had been drafted in for the bank holiday weekend including 10 specials, filling two public order vans and a prisoner van.

Officers were briefed at Yarmouth's Howard Street police station at 7.30pm by Insp Paul McCarthy.

The team were advised on intelligence received throughout the week and watched CCTV footage of an incident which happened last weekend when a man was caught in possession of an axe on Marine Parade. He was arrested and has been released on police bail.

Sgt Ansett was assigned to cover Marine Parade in Yarmouth - the area of main concern for police on Friday and Saturday nights.

He said: “Our main priority is Marine Parade and the pubs and clubs, but we can get called to other areas if we are needed.”

Officers leave the station just before 9pm and take a drive around the seafront sizing up the number of people out. After a short while, they team up in pairs to patrol the seafront on foot.

It's fairly busy with families heading home after a day out and young people making their way out for the evening.

And it's not long before a call comes over the radio to reports of a fight on Marine Parade, close to the Jetty car park.

As they head towards the area, they can hear screaming and shouting from a group of about 10 people.

Police quickly surround the youths and while no punches had been thrown, one person is given a public order warning for swearing and the youngsters are asked to move on.

After another patrol on foot it's back on the van and officers take a look at the areas behind the seafront.

At about 11.20pm, police witness a youth throwing something at a house on St Peter's Road and three officers quickly jump out of the van to speak to him. The youth had thrown a broom at a house but had not caused any damage. He was given a street caution.

Just before midnight, reports come in of a fight close to Peggotty's on King Street.

Police race to the scene but quickly discover there has been a misunderstanding with a drunken man who was found sitting in an alleyway. Passers-by thought the man had been assaulted but it turned out not to be the case.

About 20 minutes later police are again called to King Street following reports of a man being knocked unconscious.

Officers quickly find the victim, who had received minor injuries, but the man refuses to take the matter further and police take no action.

Later there are lengthy conversations with two drunken men outside the Britannia Pier.

The men, from Hull, were visiting Yarmouth before heading off south of the border to watch Ipswich play Hull. They were complaining about being thrown out of a pub and they were eventually moved on.

Officers continued to patrol the seafront in the van and on foot - liaising with door staff at the pubs and clubs and the night runs without any major problems.

The biggest challenge faced by officers on weekends is alcohol-fuelled violence, as Sgt Ansett explained.

“Almost 90pc of incidents we attend in the evenings on a Friday and Saturday night are alcohol related, whether it's fights, disturbances or even domestics, alcohol is almost always involved.

“We are trying to deal with people affected by alcohol which is not easy. It will often end in an arrest and the people, generally, are not compliant. Quite often after a night in the cells people are totally different in the morning after they have sobered up.

“It is the alcohol that affects their behaviour.”

He added that officers from the Safer Neighbourhood Teams played a vital role throughout the week talking to businesses along the seafront and gathering information.

“The idea is to be pro-active rather than react to something after it has happened. In the last year assault incidents have gone down quite markedly which was one of our targets. It's also important to recognise that assaults can be anything from a push to a stabbing which rarely happens in the town. Yarmouth is a safe place.”