Police chiefs say they are ready for New Year’s Eve-style celebrations on Saturday as pubs and bars are allowed to open their doors for the first time in months.
Suffolk Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said forces will have enough officers in place when Covid-19 lockdown measures are further eased this weekend.
The National Police Chiefs’ lead for alcohol harm said enforcement will be a last resort but she warned that those who break the law will be prosecuted and said police have powers to close down licensed premises in some circumstances.
“Police will prepare for the unexpected all the time. But we also prepare for instances like New Year’s Eve, like Saturday’s release of lockdown,” she said.
“This isn’t a highly unusual occasion for us, so we’ll use similar plans that we use for those occasions of other national celebrations like sporting events and New Year’s Eve.
“We are ready. The planning has been done, the training is in place and we have also been working very closely with our partners, the licensees, the local community and our blue light colleagues to make sure we’re ready for the weekend.”
Ms Kearton said there would be a visible police presence on Saturday night and that people should be ready to change their plans or go home if venues are too busy.
“Saturday policing and night-time economy is part of our regular bread and butter and the response will be similar, although there will probably be a heightened response in certain places,” she said.
“We have enough officers and we are resourced for the weekend, planning is in place and the best approach for everyone is to work together to ensure we can all recognise the gradual partial lifting of the restrictions but to stay safe so that we can all have a good evening and enjoy it.”
The emergency services are urging people going out to pubs, bars and restaurants this weekend to act responsibly.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) chairman Professor Anthony Marsh said 999 should only be used in a life-threatening emergency.
“We urge members of the public to contact the emergency services only where there is a genuine need,” he said.
“Calling 999 when it is unnecessary means those staff and vehicles are then unable to respond to critically ill patients, or those in need of our fire and police colleagues.
“Most of the time a pharmacy, your GP or 111 are more appropriate options than 999. People should only dial 999 in a genuine emergency.”